There appears to be no mounting opposition to a bill that would change the way E. coli is measured at Missouri’s designated state park swim beaches.
And that’s potentially good news for the Lake of the Ozarks’ two public beaches, which have been closed several times in recent years because of elevated E. coli levels.
District 124 Rep. Rocky Miller (R-Tuscumbia), the lake’s newest representative, introduced a bill early in the session that would cause state park swim beaches to use a standard that measures culturable E. coli using a specified federal method at a geometric mean based on specified sampling data. That’s a technical change from how E. coli has been measured previously.
And, if a beach is found to be in excess of the minimum, signs would be posted saying “Swimming Not Recommended” rather than “Beach Closed.”
Representative Miller said this week that the public hearings in both the House and Senate have been completed and there was no opposition.
The bill currently is not on the House calendar for debate.
Local economic development officials are encouraged by Representative Miller’s bill, which is co-sponsored by District 123 Rep. Diane Franklin (R-Camdenton), District 58 Rep. David Wood (R-Versailles) and District 158 Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick (R-Shell Knob). It’s also been introduced in the Senate by District 16 Sen. Dan Brown (R-Rolla) as SF140.
“Currently, Missouri has the strictest public beach testing regulations in the United States,” Jim Divincen, executive director of the Tri-County Lodging association, said. “House Bill 51 and Senate Bill 140 really do two things: They require an additional two tests be taken if the first round of bacteria test results exceed the EPA acceptable level threshold, and they change how this information is communicated to the general public by eliminating the yellow crime scene tape currently being used to close public beaches and allows the posting of a sign that says swimming is not recommended.
If this legislation is voted into law, Missouri will be tied with a few other states as having the strictest public beach testing regulations. This legislation applies to all of the state’s 17 public beach areas. The new legislation requiring the additional two tests ensures that one spiked reading from rain runoff is not a factor, Divincen explained.