Koster gives recommendations for improving water quality at Lake of the Ozarks | St. Louis Public Radio

Koster gives recommendations for improving water quality at Lake of the Ozarks

Jan 25, 2011

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is taking steps he hopes will improve water quality at the Lake of the Ozarks, one of Missouri’s most popular tourist destinations.

The Attorney General has compiled a list of 12 recommendations he’s encouraging state lawmakers to take up (You can read the recommendations in full-text below).  Among others, Koster says setting tougher standards for septic tanks should be the first priority, especially as baby boomers retire and move to the area.

“A lot of them are going to be moving to the Lake of the Ozarks,” says Koster. “They’ll be using these septic systems that are 30, 40, 50 years old and are unquestionably, we think, are leaching into the lake.  As more pressure is put on those septic systems, its up to all of us to step up to the plate and say, ‘we’ve got to do better.’”

In recent years the lake has seen dangerous levels of E. coli, resulting in closed beaches and a flurry of finger-pointing in Jefferson City.

Koster’s recommendations are the result of a two-day symposium focused on protecting water quality at the lake.

At the top of the list, Koster says, is the creation of a regional sewer district and tougher regulation of existing septic systems.  One way of paying for this, he suggests, would be implementing a regional sales tax.  In that way, visitors to the lake would share part of the cost for addressing the problem.

However, at a time when the state’s budget is already in the red, many in the Republican-led Missouri General Assembly are likely to bawk at the idea spending more money, or increasing taxes.

Still, Koster says it’s time for state legislators to put their money where their mouth is.

“Two summers ago we had a big deal over the E. coli scare at the Lake of the Ozarks,” he says. “The legislature jumped into the fray, held hearings, subpoenaed the DNR, held all sorts of interviews.  Now the question is was that fight just a political fight or are we serious?”

Additionally, Koster also recommends strengthening the authority of the state department of health and increasing funding for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Koster's Recomendations for Protecting Water Quality at the Lake of the Ozarks