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Water Quality at the Lake of the Ozarks: The E. coli Issue. January 14, 2010 Steve Jeffery Thompson Coburn LLP St. Louis, Missouri (314) 552-6000. Discussion Items. What is E. coli ? What is the health standard for E. coli ? 2009 Sampling at the Lake of the Ozarks

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water quality at the lake of the ozarks the e coli issue

Water Quality at the Lake of the Ozarks: The E. coli Issue

January 14, 2010

Steve Jeffery

Thompson Coburn LLP

St. Louis, Missouri

(314) 552-6000

discussion items
Discussion Items
  • What is E. coli?
  • What is the health standard for E. coli?
  • 2009 Sampling at the Lake of the Ozarks
  • Did the 2009 sampling comply with the standard?
  • What follow-up actions have taken place?

There are hundreds of strains of E. coli, most of which are harmless to human health

  • E. coli 0157 is a rare strain that produces toxins (“STECs”) that cause severe illness in humans
  • To confirm a public health concern, it is necessary to identify whether E. coli 0157 is present

STEC live in the guts of ruminant animals, including cattle, goats, sheep, deer, and elk.

The major source for human illnesses is cattle.

Other kinds of animals, including pigs and birds, sometimes pick up STEC from the environment and may spread it.


What is the

Health Standard

for E.coli ?


Source: http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/beaches/files/1986crit.pdf


Source: http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/beaches/files/1986crit.pdf


Did the 2009 Sampling Comply


EPA’s Ambient Water Quality Criteria?


Was the Sampling Frequency Consistent?

DNR Sampling


May 26

June 22

July 6

August 17

September 8

October 5

EPA Ambient Water Quality Criteria (1986)

“Based on a statistically significant number of samples (generally not less than 5 samples spaced equally over a 30-day period)”


Was There Specific Testing for E. Coli 0157?

Lake of the Ozarks October sampling finds no elevated E. coli levels

Seasonal Totals Well Within State Standard

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, OCT. 9, 2009 -- This season's final set of water samples from the Lake of the Ozarks found none with E. coli levels in excess of the federal recommended maximum for swimming areas, and the overall testing results for the summer found E. coli levels for the lake at less than one-tenth the state standard for swimming, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources announced today.

E. coli is a bacteria found in the intestinal tract of warm-blooded animals, including humans. Most strains of E. coli are harmless, but some can cause gastrointestinal illness. Because the purpose of the testing is to provide baseline information for future comparison, rather than providing immediate public health data, the testing method used by the department does not differentiate between strains of the bacteria.

governor s enforcement initiative
Governor’s Enforcement Initiative

September 23, 2009 News Release:

Gov. Nixon initiates massive, unprecedented water quality enforcement effort at Lake of the Ozarks

OSAGE BEACH, Mo. - Gov. Jay Nixon announced today a sweeping enforcement initiative aimed at improving water quality at the Lake of the Ozarks ….


Four Parts of the Governor’s Initiative:

Inspection sweep of 400 area facilities

Implementation of a zero tolerance policy

DNR to complete a baseline survey of water quality at the Lake

DNR will use “most rigorous possible” standard of review for permits


“… A zero-tolerance standard for permit violations will be applied and violators found during the sweep will receive administrative penalties issued by the DNR Director Mark Templeton or referred to the office of the Attorney General for enforcement action….”

dnr enforcement actions at the lake
DNR Enforcement Actions at the Lake
  • DNR inspections began on October 5th
  • 90 violations found to-date

Source: http://www.dnr.mo.gov/loz.htm

governor s legislative proposal to improve water quality dec 29 2009 press release
Governor’s Legislative Proposal to Improve Water QualityDec. 29, 2009 Press Release
  • Clean Water Commission designates a water body as “distressed.”
  • The Commission and DNR would be required to use heightened scrutiny in the permitting process in order to prevent new pollution. 

Proposed Additional DNR Actions

  • DNR ceases issuance of permits to applicants in the affected area. Exceptions could be granted by the Commission where it deems proper.
  • DNR begins inspection and enforcement of any and all on-site waste water treatment facilities which are currently not required to have permits, such as septic systems, package plants and lagoons.
  • DNR conducts investigations, including water quality monitoring, geologic reviews and facility inspections to determine how to improve water quality in the distressed body, and to determine if and when a body is no longer distressed.

Outstanding Issues

  • Is there really a health-related E. Coli problem if no effort has ever been made to specifically identify E. Coli 0157?
  • If the DNR Report did not indicate there was insufficient statutory authority, then why propose additional legislation?
  • Is funding available to support the additional DNR permitting and inspection activities?
water quality at the lake of the ozarks the e coli issue27
Water Quality at the Lake of the Ozarks: TheE. coli Issue


Stephen G. Jeffery

Thompson Coburn LLP



Thompson Coburn LLP

One US Bank Plaza

St. Louis, Missouri 63101