EPA comment period on lake water quality ends March 22

Lake Sun Staff
newsroom@lakesunonline.com
The map shows the expansive watershed above Truman Lake that reaches into Kansas. The area above Truman is dominated by the Plains ecoregion. Regarding the map, first, most people do not realize just how expansive the watershed is above Truman dam. It’s very large and reaches far into Kansas. The watershed for Lake of the Ozarks is over 60% percent of the Plains ecoregion, not the more rocky Ozark landscape found directly around the Lake of the Ozarks. The state nutrient criteria is higher than the more restrictive levels for the Ozarks Highland ecoregion than it is for the Ozark Highland ecoregion. Missouri DNR has placed Lake of the Ozarks into the Ozarks Highland ecoregion, while Truman is in the Plains.

Time is running out for anyone interested in sharing their opinion with the Environmental Protection Agency about their recommendation to list Lake of the Ozarks and Truman Lake as impaired waterways. 

Stakeholders have until March 22 to submit their comments to the EPA. 

EPA’s recommendation has drawn criticism from many in the lake area who feel the federal agency needs to take another look at the data used to make the recommendation. The deadline was extended from Feb. 5 to March 22 after EPA’s recommendation drew the attention of lake area officials and other stakeholders.

EPA’s recommendation stems from their analysis of data they say indicates the levels of chlorophyll-a in Lake of the Ozarks and Truman Lake exceed Missouri’s nutrient criteria that could impact the health and diversity of aquatic life. In November of last year, the EPA partially approved, partially disapproved Missouri’s 2020 303(d) list of impaired waters. 

DNR is required to submit the list every two years under the Clean Water Act. The list includes waterways in the state that exceed certain criteria, including elevated levels of several types of nutrients. The nutrient that caught the attention of the EPA is chlorophyll-a.  Elevated levels of the nutrient can cause algae blooms that, in some situations, can be a hazard to fish. Although DNR did not classify either Lake of the Ozarks or Truman Lake as impaired, EPA added the two bodies of water, along with 38 others in the state to their list of recommendations. EPA disapproved the portion of the list that did not include the 40 additional lakes as impaired against the state’s chlorophyll-a numeric nutrient criteria. In other words, according to EPA, Lake of the Ozarks and Truman Lake have elevated levels of chlorophyll-a that qualify the bodies of water to be listed as impaired. 

Written comments must be sent by email to R7-WaterDivision@epa.gov on or before March 22, 2021. 

The public notice, as well as the decision letter, can be found here: 

https://www.epa.gov/mo/state-missouri-2020-list-impaired-waters.