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The Lake News Online
  • Our view: Nixon dropped the ball on beach testing bill

  • A family picks up a brochure at a Missouri rest area, or Googles swim beaches at the Lake of the Ozarks. They’re excited. They’re going to the lake for the weekend so the family can enjoy a fun day at the beach. Plans are made; lodging is acquired. But wait.
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  • A family picks up a brochure at a Missouri rest area, or Googles swim beaches at the Lake of the Ozarks. They’re excited. They’re going to the lake for the weekend so the family can enjoy a fun day at the beach. Plans are made; lodging is acquired. But wait.
    They arrive at Grand Glaize Beach at the State Park in Osage Beach and yellow and black police tape forbids them from even stepping foot on the beach. The beach is closed. Only 36 hours before the weekend, the DNR makes its determination. The beach has been shut down because E. coli levels as determined by current Department of Natural Resources standards are too high. To make matters less attractive, a gaggle of turkey vultures is menacingly traipsing in the sand.
    But it could have been a lot different.
    Sitting on Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk is House Bill 28, which includes a provision that changes the way the DNR measures E. coli bacteria. The bill would require the DNR to use the Environmental Protection Agency’s method, or an equivalent method, to determine if E.coli bacterial levels at state park beaches are too high for public safety. And the bill, originally introduced by District 124 State Rep. Rocky Miller, would allow “Swimming Not Recommended” signs rather than “Beach Closed” signs that have turned away visitors for several years. Using EPA standards certainly does not make the water less safe. It’s merely a more efficient way of measuring the quality of the water.
    Representative Miller’s bill could have been adopted by now ― and signed by the governor ― at several junctures within the legislative process since it was first introduced in January. The beach more than likely would have been open this weekend. A DNR bill that included the E. coli/beach closure language was threatened for veto by Governor Nixon, so it was quickly attached to another bill that now sits on his desk.
    At best, if Nixon smiles brightly on the Lake of the Ozarks, the new standards won’t become effective until late August. Most of the tourist season will be lost by then. Kudos to Rep. Miller for understanding the E. coli issue and pushing legislation to help remedy the problem.
    How sad that politics got in the way of a family’s fun at the Lake of the Ozarks.

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