No word on impaired waterways decision

Joyce L. Miller
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.

Months after taking public comment, the Environmental Protection Agency has yet to issue any recommendations regarding Lake of the Ozark on the list of impaired waterways in Missouri. 

According to the EPA, there is not a timeline for issuing a recommendation or a decision. EPA did take public comment on the recommendation to list Lake of the Ozarks as impaired.

EPA’s recommendation drew criticism from many in the lake area who felt the federal agency needs to take another look at the data used to make the recommendation. 

Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer referred to the date as flawed and outdated. 

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 denied 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. 

DNR put Truman and Lake of the Ozarks in the Ozarks ecoregion zone, which has a much lower threshold for chlorophyll-a. Both Truman and the Lake’s watersheds are in the Plains zone and therefore any testing done should reflect that zones limits.