What You Should Know Before You Build - A Buyer’s and Developer’s Guide to Environmental Regulations

Department of Natural Resources fact sheet
Department of Natural Resources Director: Carol S. Comer

What you build and how you build it makes a difference. By adhering to environmental standards, you can help keep healthy air, clean drinking water, pure streams and lakes, and preserve the land for future generations.

What do you need?

Most new construction projects must meet a variety of requirements that are designed to protect public health and the environment. State environmental regulations administered by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources pertain to air pollution control, drinking water supplies, water pollution control, solid waste, hazardous waste, dam construction and well drilling.

Before you buy land, many lenders require an environmental assessment of the land. Knowing whether the property is polluted before it is purchased could avoid expensive cleanup costs. Environmental consulting firms can provide an assessment.

Before you build, you should find out if you need permits or other approvals from the department. By acquainting yourself with environmental requirements ahead of time, you can avoid costly modifications during or after construction. In addition, you can protect the environment and enhance your investment.

If you buy an existing structure, business or dam, you should check to see if you need an environmental approval from the department. Approvals may not automatically transfer from one property owner to the next. You may need to reapply.

If you decide to remodel or demolish an existing structure, you should check to see if you need approval from the department related to the possible presence of asbestos. You cannot tell asbestos by looking at it. Additional information can be found in the department’s Asbestos Requirements for Demolition and Renovation Projects, Fact Sheet--PUB2157.

Do not bury or burn your demolition waste without contacting the department. Demolition debris cannot be burned unless the structure is being used for fire training. This will require a permit.
Debris that may contaminate the soil/water cannot be buried. The Managing Construction and Demolition Waste, Fact Sheet--PUB2045 fact sheet explains this in more detail.

A few examples of facilities that might need permits are amusement parks, bars, restaurants, apartment complexes, campgrounds, churches, car washes, gas stations, grocery stores, dams, dry cleaners, retail shops, condominiums, industry, hospitals, mobile home parks, printers, single family residences and subdivisions.

Use the worksheet at the end of this fact sheet to get a better idea of requirements your construction project or structure must meet.

Let us help you
If you need a permit or approval from the department, enough information must accompany your application for the department to determine that the proposed activity will comply with the law. In some instances, the information needed to support the application must be prepared by a registered professional engineer or geologist licensed to practice in Missouri.

Contact the department if you need assistance. Department employees will be glad to help you with information about Missouri’s environmental laws and how they apply to your particular development project.

Once your application or request for approval is received, it is reviewed by the proper department staff. An appropriate permit or approval for the facility can be issued if the application and supporting information are in order, if any required public notice period has been observed and if the proposed activity will not violate environmental laws and regulations.

Additional department services
The department can provide many types of useful information for your project. Records on water quality, underground water supplies, land surveys, geologic data, soil properties and other information are available.

Where to get information
Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Kansas City Regional Office
500 N.E. Colbern Rd.
Lee’s Summit, MO 64086-4710

Northeast Regional Office
1709 Prospect Dr.
Macon, MO 63552-2602

St. Louis Regional Office
7545 S. Lindbergh, Suite 210
St. Louis, MO 63125

Southeast Regional Office
2155 North Westwood Blvd.
Poplar Bluff, MO 63901-1420

Southwest Regional Office
2040 W. Woodland
Springfield, MO 65807-5912

State Historic Preservation Office
For information on possible historical preservation or cultural resources conflicts call

Missouri Geological Survey
For more information about construction permits for new dams or registering existing dams contact:

Department of Natural Resources
Missouri Geological Survey
111 Fairgrounds Rd.
P.O. Box 250
Rolla, MO 65402

Well Drilling
For information about well drilling (private, heat pump, mineral exploration or injection) and well driller permits contact:

Department of Natural Resources
Missouri Geological Survey
Wellhead Protection
P.O. Box 250
Rolla, MO 65402

Other Resources

If the property you are developing or buying is located in a city or county with its own requirements (e.g., planning and zoning regulations) you may need to obtain some permits and approvals from the city or county in addition to those required by this department. In some instances, certain permits or approvals from local governments replace permits or approvals ordinarily obtained from the department. Check with city or county officials first. For example, in air pollution matters in Missouri, there are two local agencies that have an agreement with the department to enforce Missouri’s asbestos requirements as well as local ordinances. These local agencies are:

Jurisdiction Agency Telephone
Kansas City Kansas City Health Department
Air Quality Program
St. Louis County St. Louis County Health Department 314-615-8924

Two additional local agencies do not enforce Missouri’s asbestos requirements but may have local ordinances they enforce:

Jurisdiction Agency Telephone
St. Louis (city) St. Louis Division of Air Pollution Control
Air Quality Program
Springfield Springfield-Greene County Health Department of Environmental Services 417-864-1412

Prior to performing a project in one of these jurisdictions, you should contact the appropriate agency to determine if any additional requirements apply.

Contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 573-876-1911, and the Missouri Department of Conservation, 573-751-4115, to request a search for rare and endangered species in the project area.

The Department of Health and Senior Services regulates domestic waste water systems with a design capacity of less than 3,000 gallons per day and discharged to an approved soil absorption system, a holding tank or a lagoon serving a single-family residence. Call 573-751-6095 or toll-free 866-628-9891.

The United States’ Army Corps of Engineers needs to be contacted for

Kansas City District 816-983-3990
Little Rock District 501-324-5295
Memphis District 901-544-3471
Rock Island District 309-794-5370
St. Louis District 314-331-8574

Missouri Utilities Call Before You Dig 800-344-7483

                                                                        Permits or Approvals That May Be Required*

  Air Pollution 1

Storm Water -
Land Disturbances 2

Storm Water Industrial Operations 3 Wastewater 4 Water Wells 5 Hazardous Waste and Tanks Drinking Water 6 Dams
Amusement Parks and
Water Slides
  X   X X   Based on number of
people/ connections
Apartment Complex   X   X X   X  
Bar or Lounge   X   X X   X  
Campground   X   X X   X  
Car Wash   X   X X      
Condominium   X   X X   X  
Dam   X   X X     X

Dry Cleaners/

X X   X X X    
Gas Station X X   X X X X  
Grocery Store   X   X X   X  
Health Care Facility X X   X X X    
Industry X X X X X X X  
Mobile Home Park   X   X X   X  
Motel   X   X X   X  
Musical Theater   X   X X   X  
Printing or Photographic Business X X   X X X X  
Restaurant/Snack Shop/
  X   X X   X  
Resort   X   X X   X  
Retail Shop/Shopping Center   X   X X   X  
Retirement Center X X   X X      
Single Residence   X   X X      
Subdivision   X   X X   X  
  1. An air pollution permit is required if an incinerator will be present, or if the open burning of construction wastes is planned. Gas stations in St. Louis City and St. Louis County also must get a local permit. Boilers over 10 MMBTU/hr and emergency generators may require a permit. Other air pollution emissions may also require a permit.
  2. Runoff from land disturbances greater than one acre may require land disturbance storm water permits.
  3. Runoff from certain activities may require storm water permits.
  4. The department regulates domestic wastewater systems that discharge above ground or have design capacities of 3,000 gallons per day or more. They are also responsible for subdivisions with seven or more lots for sale, lease, or promotional plan. The department also regulates all non-domestic wastewater (example: cooling water, process wastewater, hospitals, etc.) no matter what the discharge rate is. Department of Health regulates domestic waste with a design capacity of less than 3,000 gallons per day and disposed of by an approved underground method, holding tank, or a lagoon serving a single family residence.
  5. All public water wells and oil and gas well require a permit. Private domestic waters, multi-family wells, heat pump wells, monitoring wells and mineral exploration bores do not need a permit, but must be installed in accordance with the Missouri Well Construction Rules and reported on a certification form to the department’s Public Drinking Water Branch - Wellhead Protection Section in Rolla within 60 days of installation.
  6. Drinking water systems that regularly serve an average of 25 or more individuals at least 60 days out of the year or have 15 or more service connections have additional permitting, monitoring and reporting requirements.

* Note: The department should be contacted prior to construction of facilities to determine if a permit or approval is required. Some facilities not mentioned that will probably require permits and approvals are: POTW, landfills, power plants, transfer stations, hazardous waste TSDs, etc.

See the guidance document Environmental Permits and How to Obtain Them, Booklet--PUB98..