By Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio
Jefferson City, Mo. – The Environmental Protection Agency is directing the State of Missouri to raise water quality standards for the St. Louis segment of the Mississippi River.
The new standards will require the nearly 30-mile stretch of river from North Riverfront Park to the mouth of the Meramec to be clean enough for swimming, fishing and other recreational activities.
Art Spratlin is with the EPA's regional office in Kansas City, Kansas.
"When that change is made, that will then mean that the entire length of the Mississippi River, from the Iowa border to the confluence with the Ohio (River), will be classified to the same highest use for recreation," Spratlin said.
Kathleen Logan Smith is Executive Director of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment. She describes the order as a victory, but also says mandating new standards is just the beginning.
"We probably won't be holding any swimming parties there any time soon, but what it does to set the default standard is to say that we're not going to treat the river like a cesspool...we're going to work for the river's health and people remaining healthy when they contact the river," Logan Smith said.
A spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says the Nixon administration will work with the Metropolitan Sewer District and the EPA to make sure the new water quality standards are met.