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Pressure On EPA Over Missouri Waters

August 11, 2010

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - A Missouri group is taking the federal government to court over water safety and quality in the Show-Me State. The Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE) is suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), claiming it has failed to enforce federal water quality standards for almost 40 years on more than 80 percent of the state's waters.

MCE attorney Caroline Ishida says the suit alleges that a large percentage of Missouri's waters have not been properly protected for such activities as swimming and fishing, which puts people and wildlife at risk.

"People can and are swimming or fishing, and fish and other critters are living in waters that are not clean, and there's no way to verify that they're clean. In addition, they're not being tested or monitored to see what's in them."

Ishida says E. coli bacteria contamination is responsible for more than 30 Missouri beach closings this year, most of which are in waters that are classified as protected by the state.

"Even the waters that are supposed to be protected under the law right now are experiencing some issues."

Missouri has more miles of rivers and streams than any other state. Ten years ago, says Ishida, the EPA instructed the state to add 160,000 miles of streams to the waters it protects, but very little has changed since then. An EPA spokesperson says although the agency has been working with the state and MCE to address the issues raised in the lawsuit, no progress has been made in recent months.

Heather Claybrook, Public News Service - MO