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Residents using Koen Creek urged to take action

ST. LOUIS – Area residents who use Koen Creek are being urged by the Missouri Coalition for the Environment to make comments to the Missouri Clean Water Commission about its plan to exempt that stream from federal Clean Water Protection Act protections.

The stream that originates east of Park Hills and empties into Flat River is one of 170 Missouri streams the commission is intending to exempt under a change in rules that has been proposed. If the change is adopted, the exempted streams will not be subject to new anti-pollution rules.

It is suggested by the coalition that if Koen Creek is exempted, sewer agencies and other facilities will be allowed to continue releasing bacteria-laden water into it. The coalition said potential pollution resulting from the exemption could be harmful to those who might use the stream for recreational purposes.

A committee appointed by the commission has recommended Koen Creek be removed from the “whole body contract recreation designation.” A Department of Natural Resources staff inspector checked three sites along the stream and found it did not have sufficient depth for recreational purposes except during rainy periods.

The coalition, in a statement released recently, urged anyone who uses Koen Creek to make comments to the Clean Water Commission. If people have used this stream at any time since 1975 for swimming or other activities where they could get water in their eyes, ears, or mouth, full water-quality protections must be put in place and sewer agencies are required to disinfect the wastewater they discharge, according to the coalition. It said comments should therefore include details of how, when and where the stream is used.

They should also include similar information about any other uses, such as wading, boating or fishing, since these also expose people to bacteria and viruses and should require at least some level of protection.

The Clean Water Commission will be accepting public comments until Aug. 24 on the proposed exemptions. They may be sent to Marlene Kirchner, Clean Water Commission Secretary, P.O. Box 176, Jefferson City, Mo., 65102. To be considered, mailed comments must be postmarked by 5 p.m. on Aug. 24.

Comments may also be e-mailed to and the same deadline applies.

More information at the proposed rule changes and exemptions can also be found at the DNR’s site on the Internet at .

The coalition has expressed concern about the exemptions, noting sewage that has not been disinfected may contain viruses, parasites and other pathogens that can make people sick. Some of the health problem caused by such contamination are ear infections, typhoid fever, hepatitis, gastroenteritis, dysentery and other illnesses.

There is another area stream on list of the 170 proposed for exemption. It is a five mile stretch of Three Hill Creek that is partially in St. Francois County and partly in Washington County. Its exact location is not provided in the coalition statement nor in DNR documents on the web.

Like Koen Creek, the committee found Three Hill Creek did not to meet the necessary requirements for continued regulation.

There are no sewage treatment plants along Koen Creek, which passes under U.S. 67 at the north edge of the Mineral Area College campus. The available reports did not indicate whether there was any testing of water quality.

They did indicate the latest inspection in June occurred during a severe drought and at the time much of the Koen Creek bed was dry.

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