DNR calls for comments on recreational stream use
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is seeking public input on the recreational use of more than 380 Missouri waterways.
Every few years DNR must review state water quality standards. This is required by the federal Clean Water Act.
Streams are ranked by the amount of and what kinds of recreational use they get. For example, there are different standards for a stream heavily used for fishing, swimming and other immersion recreation than one which only rarely is used for recreation.
The department is looking for information whether or not these streams are used by the public for swimming, fishing, wading, tubing or any other type of recreation. This information is critical for helping to maintain appropriate water quality where these uses exist.
Missouri citizens know best how their local rivers and streams are used and DNR wants those who are familiar with these water bodies to provide their input.
In 2005, the 380 streams were classed as being suitable for “whole body contact recreation,” meaning that people used or could use the river or stream for activities such as swimming, water skiing or skin diving.
The department’s review of water quality standards will consider public input along with the results of 2007 and 2008 stream surveys, conducted at the request of the Missouri Clean Water Commission, to decide if these streams’ use designations should be adjusted to more accurately represent actual or potential use.
Known as a recreational use attainability analysis, or UAA, these surveys combine stream depth measurements with interviews and public notification. In addition to asking if people swim there, the department looked for secondary contact recreation uses, such as fishing, wading and boating.
The data from each survey have been compiled and reviewed, and a recommendation has been made to either maintain or revise the current recreational use designations. These recommended use designations will ensure appropriate bacteria criteria are in place to protect attainable or existing recreational uses.
The department must balance recreational stream use with the needs of small community industrial or wastewater uses, protecting recreation where it exists, but allowing a lesser standard where it does not.
Wastewater discharge facilities are required to meet the highest federal and state requirements. A downgrade in recreational designation does not exempt a facility from the federal Clean Water Act or Missouri Clean Water Law. Each facility’s state operating permit conditions must be followed and enforced. Discharge of raw sewage is always in violation of state and federal statute and will not be permitted.
To review the UAA information available online and see which streams may be affected, visit the department’s UAA website, dnr.mo.gov/env/wpp/wqstandards/uaa/index.html. This page includes an online survey to assist the public in submitting comments as well as a video that further explains the process.
The address of the survey is https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/streamusage You must fill in the stream name you wish to report on, along with any usage you want to report since 1975. (No that is not a typo.)
Comments may be also be submitted by mail to: UAA Coordinator, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Water Protection Program, P.O. Box 176, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0176. All comments received during the Recreational UAA public comment period, and any revised department recommendations, will be posted on the department’s UAA website.
The public comment period for this process runs through Dec. 31.