In adversity there is opportunity.
For several years, the two public beaches in Lake of the Ozarks State Park have been closed numerous times by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources for elevated levels of E. coli bacteria. The DNR’s decisions are based on some of the strictest standards in the country ― even more stringent than federal standards.
Of course, the public’s health and safety should always be at the forefront. No one argues that point. But often, regulations are overkill.
Closing beaches at Grand Glaize Beach in Osage Beach and Public Beach 1 in the Lake of the Ozark State Park is a disservice to the Lake of the Ozarks community. At a time when many families struggle from paycheck to paycheck, when gasoline prices remain painfully high, the beaches are a great way to enjoy the lake on a budget.
Gov. Jay Nixon has an opportunity to resolve the issue of exceedingly high E. coli standards at State Park beaches across the state. He has on his desk two bills (HB 28 and HB 650) that contain language that would redefine how the DNR conducts its tests. The language, originally sponsored by District 124 Rep. Rocky Miller, would bring the state’s bacteria criteria inline with the EPA. And, it would allow the DNR to caution swimmers rather than close the beaches.
There is nothing more alarming than yellow police tape strung between trees at the beaches. Why would anyone ever come back?
The danger is that the language is part of other bills that the governor or his cronies may not like. We believe Governor Nixon is caught in a web of politics. He has never been a particular fan of the Lake of the Ozarks, and his lackadaisical attitude toward this particular issue is alarming.
It wasn’t that long ago, Feb. 8, 2011 to be exact, that Nixon was quoted by a reporter from this newspaper as saying, “The Lake of the Ozarks is a tremendous recreational and economic resource for the people of the Show-me State. It draws tens of thousands of visitors a year and is arguably our most important tourism destination.”
A simple stroke of the pen can put life back into our beaches. We ask lake-area residents to contact the governor and urge him to consider the best interests of the largest tourism venue in the state.
Gov. Jay Nixon, www.gov.mo.gov/constituentform.htm; or 573-751-3222.