2014: The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is celebrating 40 years of taking care of Missouri’s natural resources. As part of the Division of Environmental Quality, the Environmental Services Program supports the other programs in the department that require scientific data for their work.
Following is a look back at a few of the programs managed by the Environmental Services Program:
Biological Criteria Development
The Clean Water Act of 1972 established that the health of a stream should be measured by the biota that resides within it. For this reason, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) encouraged states to establish biological criteria to determine if streams are healthy or impaired. Development of the water quality assessment program, was a cooperative effort between the Department of Natural Resources,
- The partitioning of Missouri into aquatic ecoregions;
- Developing criteria to define reference streams so that test streams could be compared to a reference (best available) condition; and
- Collecting macroinvertebrate samples from each of the reference streams to establish numeric criteria based on the reference communities.
Missouri began the development of biological criteria for wadeable perennial streams in 1993 and began collecting data to establish numeric biological criteria in 1994. Because of the recent inclusion of smaller streams in Missouri’s Water Quality Standards, the next phase of biological assessment will be the collection of macroinvertebrate data and calculation of biological criteria for headwaters and small creeks throughout the state. Through the course of numerous studies the Biological Assessment Unit of the Water Quality Monitoring Section has made more than 2,000,000 macroinvertebrate identifications.
Chemical Analysis Section
The former Laboratory Services Program, currently named the Environmental Services Program, came into being in 1976 as a result of the combination of the Clean Water Commission and Air Conservation Commission laboratories. The laboratory, currently known as the Chemical Analysis Section (CAS), was housed in what is now a furniture store located at 2010 Missouri Blvd. in Jefferson City. This building also housed several other programs within the department at that time. The lab was located at the very back of the building and consisted of only three rooms, very little analytical equipment and poor lab design.
The current Division of Environmental Quality’s Environmental Services Program (ESP) moved into a new state-owned building on Oct. 7, 1991. The new facility, located at 2710 West Main Street in Jefferson City, was constructed specifically for the ESP and was designed to meet the unique needs of a laboratory facility, with separate areas for the different laboratory functions. Also, special consideration for the hazardous samples and materials used and stored at the facility were included in the design and construction.
In 1992, the Missouri legislature enacted the public drinking water primacy fee to support the department’s efforts to ensure Missourians have access to adequate water that is safe to drink. The primacy fee provides critical funding for laboratory services and activities the state must perform in order to maintain delegation of the federal drinking water program. This delegation is called “primacy.” In states that have primacy, public drinking water systems are regulated by a state agency instead of the EPA. Without this fee, the department would lack the funding to implement critical regulations necessary for protecting public health and the quality of Missouri's public water supplies. As a result of this 1992 legislation, the Department of Natural Resources, and what is now the Public Drinking Water Branch, was granted primacy by the EPA and the ESP/CAS laboratory in turn became the primacy laboratory for chemical analysis. Over the next couple of years the laboratory began increasing its overall number of staff, instrumentation, and method capabilities to meet the analytical needs for what has become an additional 20,000 plus samples per year.
Currently, the CAS serves as the State of Missouri’s environmental laboratory and drinking water primacy laboratory. CAS provides analytical testing and support vital in protecting Missouri’s residents and natural resources. This analytical testing provides the data necessary to evaluate and make decisions concerning drinking water safety, air and water quality, and a variety of other department projects concerning natural resource protection.
Clandestine Drug Lab Collection Station Program
The Clandestine Drug Lab Collection Station Program (CDLCS Program) was created in 1998 under the leadership of Governor Mel Carnahan and in partnership with numerous local, state, and federal agencies. The CDLCS Program provides law enforcement a safe, efficient, and legal way to dispose of seized methamphetamine laboratory chemicals and debris. It was an innovative management concept in 1998 and served as a national model as to what can be accomplished when agencies work together in good faith and pool available resources for the better good. The CDLCS Program was subsequently adopted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and other states. The CDLCS Program continues to be successfully administered by the Department of Natural Resources. Since 1998 nearly 19,000 meth labs comprising nearly 500,000 pounds of hazardous, solid, and other wastes have been safely managed and dispose of properly. The CDLCS Program is estimated to have saved taxpayers an estimated 47 million dollars over standard response and cleanup methods.
In addition, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Special Projects Unit have delivered specialized technical training to more than 1,000 law enforcement officers allowing them to safely enter and dismantle clandestine laboratories. The Department of Natural Resources has also provided millions of dollars of respiratory and personal protective equipment to agencies throughout Missouri that they might not otherwise been able to obtain preventing an untold number of exposures, injuries or worse.
Decentralization of Environmental Emergency Response Staff
As part of an expansion, in 1996, the department was able to place emergency responders in each region across the state. Benefits of decentralizing response operations have included faster response times to incidents and fostering better relations with local first response agencies.
Missouri Spill Bill, Environmental Emergency Response
Due to the Missouri Spill Bill, duty officers monitor the Spill Reporting Hotline (573-634-2436) 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The Environmental Emergency Response Section is the department’s front line of defense against significant and imminent hazardous substance releases, natural or man-made disasters, or homeland security threats that impact public safety and the >environment. On average, the Environmental Emergency Response section receives more than 1,500 incident calls and responds, on average, to more than 300 hazardous substance emergencies each year.
Environmental Emergency Response duty officers, maintaining the 24-hour hotline, provide technical assistance regarding the chemical and necessary cleanup actions, work with the responsible party/spiller to ensure that proper cleanup is completed and impact to the public health and environment is minimized, conduct notifications to various agencies, and determine if an on-site response is needed by program staff.
Duty officers complete an Environmental Emergency Response Incident Report using the Missouri Environmental Emergency Response Tracking System database as a repository for information related to all hazardous substance emergencies and releases reported on the 24-hour hotline or to the National Response Center.