Environmentalists Object to DNR Stream Plan
Officials say it's just not practical to remove bacteria from streams people aren't even using. The DNR hires contractors to compile stream reports called "use attainability analyses," or UAAs.
The reports show how deep the water is in a given stream, a measurement that indicates how likely it is that people would swim in them.
"If nobody is swimming or recreating in the stream, the bacteria isn't harmful, and so the question becomes, do we make rate payers pay extra to treat wastewater when no swimming use exists?" said Ed Galbraith, DNR Water Protection Program director.
If swimming is unlikely, local waste management centers don't have to pay to clean the streams.
"If a stream goes through a park or through private property, and it's not watched 24-7, then they don't know what goes on with that," said Kathleen Logan Smith of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment. "People have a right in Missouri to have clean streams."
Bear Creek is one of seven streams in Boone County slated for study, but it won't be the first time DNR's been there. Seven of the streams on the list have already been tested, but the DNR says it needs to double check usage. The reports aren't cheap: in 2007, it will cost almost $600 thousand to test the chosen streams.
"It's not a good use of tax dollars to remove protection from Missouri waterways. It doesn't do our children any favors, and it doesn't do their children any favors, and it certainly doesn't do the environment any favors," said Smith.
The DNR says it's looking closely before making any decisions.
"Our commitment to protect people who recreate water is solid. We're not backing away from that," said Galbraith.
The DNR also looks at other signs for human use like fishing tackle or footprints before lowering protection standards.