Mar 15, 2018

Missouri Clean Water Law to be Voted on by State House

The Administrative Oversight committee approved the law on March 12

New Clean Water Law moves to House vote in Missouri

On Monday March 12, 2018, the Missouri Administrative Oversight committee approved the new Clean Water Law, which will now be voted on by the state’s House. If passed, the amendment would exempt irrigation runoff and stormwater discharge in irrigated fields from requiring DNR permits unless it posed a direct threat to public health or the environment.

The new law would grant the state expanded power in the ability to oversee the safety and control of public water in all sectors, including domestic, agricultural, industrial, recreational, animal life and other uses. The amendment would also place sole responsibility on the state to ensure any waste injected into state waters be properly treated in accordance to U.S. EPA standards.

Rep. John Wiemann, R-O’Fallon, the bill’s sponsor, claims that the overarching goal of the bill is not to remove the DNR’s power, but rather to move gridlocked processes forward and to provide clarity on ambiguous issues.

“We are really just trying to bring some certainty in that, kind of remove the subjectivity and try to provide some more certainty in the law, so that those in the agricultural industry-- and we are not talking about CAFOs, we are talking about just regular farmers and ranchers,” Wiemann said. “To allow them to know with some relative certainty that what they are doing (under) normal and standard practice would not later be brought back from the Department of Natural Resources and said (that it) is going to be illegal.”

Inevitably, this has led to ire from many DNR representatives. According to section 644.059 of the amendment, stormwater discharge and irrigation runoff will not be subject to DNR permit requirements and potential penalization unless contamination reaches state waters and renders it harmful according to the bill’s standards.