St. Louis Public Radio News
7:49 pm
Tue December 29, 2009

Nixon proposes legislation for Lake of the Ozarks

Jefferson City, Mo. – Governor Jay Nixon wants increased regulatory authority as a means of protecting water quality at the Lake of the Ozarks.

And that proposal comes on the same day the latest test results are released.

Water samples gathered in October show contamination from some agricultural chemicals, including nitrogen and phosphorus. But Department of Natural Resources officials say tests for other pollutants were normal.

The Nixon Administration has come under fire because the release of test results showing high E. coli levels was delayed for a month during the time of year when tourists flock to the popular lake.

Nixon dismissed a long-time aid who took responsibility for delaying the report's release, and DNR Director Mark Templeton was placed on unpaid leave for two weeks.

The governor's Press Secretary, Scott Holste, says the proposal would lead to improved water quality at the Lake of the Ozarks.

"(It) would give authority to the Missouri Clean Water Commission to designate certain bodies of water that are public as being distressed," Holste said.

Under the proposal, the commission and the DNR would have the authority to limit permits and inspect a broader range of facilities at the Lake of the Ozarks.

"(Governor Nixon) has introduced this legislative proposal in order to stop new pollution from further contaminating the lake, (and) to protect the lake particularly from those wastewater systems that currently do not need to be permitted," Holste said.

The proposed legislation does not have a sponsor, but Holste says they hope to find one in the next few weeks.

St. Louis Public Radio also contacted the office of State Senator Brad Lager (R, Savannah) for this story, but the senator has not responded to our request for an interview. Lager has been a critic of the Nixon Administration's actions in the aftermath of the delayed E. coli report.