This morning one of our readers sent us a link to an article related to a topic we discussed earlier this year: Government Officials Cover Up Dangerous Levels of Bacteria. Apparently the fallout from that debacle has not finished falling and as a result, new and interesting fact about the quality of water in Missouri has come to light.

Just before Memorial Day last year, tests showed high E. coli levels at Lake of the Ozarks. Those results weren’t made public until after a second round of testing showed bacteria levels had dropped.

The fallout for tourism and health was limited. Not so the political consequences for Gov. Jay Nixon.

Since last fall, a state Senate committee chaired by Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah, has held hearings into the testing failure.

It has produced useful information, most notably news that other tests showed hexavalent chromium, a heavy metal linked to cancer, in drinking water in Hannibal and Louisiana.

But the committee — indeed, the entire Legislature — is avoiding a much larger and more difficult issue: Clean water.

Missouri’s system for ensuring water quality and safety is broken and about to go bankrupt.

It’s not broken only at Lake of the Ozarks, Hannibal and Louisiana; it’s broken everywhere. ( source )

Sounds like some serious work needs to get done in that state, but where will the money come from? Clearly it sounds like a time when those responsible for polluting the water in that state (and others) step up and pay for the damage they have done in the form of fines, financial penalties and and so forth.

Yep. That SOUNDS like a good idea, but…

Each year, the state Department of Natural Resources tests water at about 350 sites; many are tested more than once.

Most of the money for those tests comes from fees on permits taken out by companies that discharge pollutants into lakes and rivers.

The fees haven’t been raised in a decade, but the cost of testing continues to rise. In 2005, lawmakers established a task force to make recommendations about the issue. It never met.

In 2007, with fees scheduled to expire, lawmakers set up another task force.

It recommended a 35 percent fee increase, with future hikes for inflation. But nothing happened until last year, when the fees were extended at their old rate for another year.

Most observers expect lawmakers to extend the fees without hiking them in the current session.

That means polluters still won’t pay their fair share of the cost for testing, and citizens still won’t be adequately protected.

If lawmakers fail to act, the testing program will be broke by July and gone entirely next year. ( source )

Ouch. So the burden to testing the water in Missouri will fall onto the shoulders of… the taxpayers, and ironically, the same people affected by the polluted water. This assumes, of course, that lawmakers will not allow the water quality testing program to (pardon the pun) wash away entirely.

Articles like this do nothing if not reinforce the notion that when it comes to guaranteeing the quality and safety of the water you drink, bathe in, swim in and use for other everyday purposes including watering your lawn and making sure the family dog or cat has something cool to drink, no one has your best interests at heart… unless you take an interest in the quality of the water yourself.

Sorry, but the days of someone else making sure your tap and well water won’t make you sick ended a long time ago. So we all pretty much have only one option right now: pay qualified water testing professionals to perform a full battery of tests every once in a while AND perform simpler drinking water tests ourselves between laboratory tests.

Otherwise we run the risk of falling through the cracks of an outdated, undermanned, soon to be bankrupt water management system.

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