Environmental group sues EPA seeking cleaner waters

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

ST. LOUIS -- A St. Louis-based environmental group has sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, saying the federal agency needs to push the state harder for clean lakes and rivers.

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment is particularly concerned that the EPA has not made the state's Department of Natural Resources set limits on bacteria to protect Missouri's rivers, lakes and streams, according to the coalition's lawyer, Ted Heisel.

The lawsuit, filed Oct. 7 in U.S. District Court in Jefferson City, claims Missouri is one of a handful of states without blanket bacteria limits.

It also claims the EPA has allowed the DNR to keep from setting standards for metals and toxins in drinking water supplies, allowed excessive toxins in fish, hasn't protected water resources from sewage treatment effluent and mine wastes, and allows exemptions from bacteria limits when it rains.

Clean Water Act

The EPA has had since 1982 to make the state comply with the 1972 Clean Water Act, but has failed, Heisel said.

EPA Region 7 spokesman Martin Kessler previously said the agency's lawyer had not yet seen the lawsuit, so declined comment. A phone call to the regional office from the Associated Press was not returned Monday.

Bryan Fawks, DNR's deputy director of water protection and soil conservation, said the department is working on a plan to comply with the Clean Water Act.

The EPA has 90 days to respond to the lawsuit.

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