A move by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to change the rules, mirrors a legislative proposal filed by a lake area state representative.
DNR notified Missouri State Representative Rocky Miller, R-District 124, earlier this week of a policy change that incorporates his legislative proposal into the agency's rules and regulations for the state's public beaches, including two at Lake of the Ozarks State Park.
Miller prefiled House Bill 51 in December to change testing requirements for E.coli of the state's 17 beaches in the Missouri State Parks system.
After filing the bill, Miller said negotiations began with the DNR to begin rule changes within the department that would clarify the standards without legislative action.
"I’m happy to report that a successful outcome has been achieved," Miller said. “I appreciate the Missouri Department of Natural Resources agreeing to work with me to clarify the standards used in Missouri, I believe our efforts will have a positive outcome and assist tourism in the area along with ensuring the health and safety of the water in the area.”
Miller said he will not withdraw the bill until he sees DNR implementing the rule change.
The two public beaches at the lake have had ongoing problems with water quality testing.
Miller introduced the beach testing bill early in the session. Under the provisions of the bill, it 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.
The rules reflect Miller's bill requiring an additional two tests be taken if the first round of bacteria test results exceed the EPA acceptable level threshold of E.coli, 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. The bill proposes new rules requiring the additional two tests ensures that one spiked reading from rain runoff is not a factor.
Miller said the rule changes gives the state "the best of both worlds."
"We are protecting our public and protecting our reputation," Miller said.
Miller's bill had received wide spread support from lake area tourism officials.