As citizens prepare to celebrate the new year, Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff say the state’s celebration should include acknowledgment of several major environmental accomplishments that will mean a cleaner, healthier 2009.
The project sites included several in St. Francois County.
“This past year has been an outstanding one for Missouri’s environment, DNR Director Doyle Childers said. “I’m proud of all that our agency, our partners and Missouri’s citizens have accomplished.”
Several initiatives have helped to reduce the amount of hazardous chemicals making their way into Missouri’s air, land and water resources. Through the School Chemical Cleanout Project, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources partnered with Missouri schools, the Center for Safe Schools and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in a program to remove and safely dispose of outdated and dangerous laboratory and instructional use chemicals.
To date, the department has accepted 221 schools for the project and has already cleaned up 53 percent of those schools. Included in the list of schools were Farmington, West County and Central school districts.
For more information on the project, see the Web site < http://www.dnr.mo.gov/env/schoolcleanout.htm >.
During the past years, the department’s general revenue funding increased from $6.6 million to more than $15 million. This represents one of the largest increases in funding for Missouri’s environmental efforts in the history of the Department of Natural Resources.
The department also worked proactively to prevent environmental mishaps from occurring through its Environmental Assistance Visits program. The DNR provides direct customer service to regulated facilities and educates them on environmental regulations when permits are newly issued or modified.
The DNR in March awarded a $500,000 grant to the city of Bonne Terre to be used for wastewater system improvements.
The money was for construction of a new final clarifier, new tertiary filters and a new ultraviolet light disinfection system, all of which were needed for Bonne Terre to meet wastewater effluent limits included in its wastewater permit.
The grant funds came from a $50 million bond sale in November of 2007, which funded Governor Blunt’s Clean Water Initiative for water and wastewater improvements. The funds were to be used in conjunction with local dollars. The project, estimated to cost more than $2.2 million, was to be completed by the end of January 2009.
Electronic and tire scrap
Another proactive effort to protect Missouri’s resources — e-cycle Missouri — drew accolades in 2008. The state initiative works to address the growing amount of electronic scrap. It received the Outstanding Achievement Award in the Citizen/Nonprofit Category, presented by the Missouri Waste Control Coalition. To learn more about recycling electronics, go to http://www.e-cyclemo.org on the Internet.
The department, in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), also conducted sampling at several Washington County Lead District sites and found contamination at three locations. The EPA added these sites to its National Priorities List, making them eligible for technical assistance grants.
With help from prison inmates who work for Missouri Vocational Enterprises, the department continued to clean up abandoned tire dumps throughout Missouri. Through the Tire Dump Roundup Program, DNR has identified 206 new sites with an estimated 650,000 tires. Sites scheduled for cleanup include one near Farmington that has 500 tires and one near Bismarck that has 1,200 tires.
The Roundup Program is funded by the Scrap Tire Fee, a 50-cent-per-tire fee charged on every new tire purchased in Missouri. For more information on this program, see the Web site http://www.dnr.mo.gov/env/swmp/tires/roundup.htm.
The DNR worked closely with other organizations and individuals to promote the safety of Missouri citizens. Staff worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and several other organizations and agencies, to release findings on the formation of sinkholes south of Cape Girardeau.
Using funding from the U.S. Geological Survey and State Farm Insurance Company, the department furthered the division’s work to create detailed surficial materials maps for the Greater St. Louis area. These detailed geologic maps will be used in cooperation with the St. Louis Area Earthquake Hazard Mapping Project to produce earthquake hazard maps of the St. Louis area.
The department streamlined its programs to provide better and more efficient services to Missourians. Its Soil and Water Conservation Program made numerous changes that have helped improve efficiency for both the program and the individual soil and water conservation districts across Missouri.
The department’s new St. Louis-area vehicle emissions inspection and maintenance program, which reduces harmful vehicle emissions, completed its first year of testing. The Gateway Vehicle Inspection Program is considered a more convenient and effective emissions test and repair program and includes more than 700 locations in the St. Louis nonattainment area.
More than 99 percent of the vehicles that fail the test are successfully repaired, which reduces the harmful emissions that contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone in the St. Louis area.
In March, the DNR and EPA completed their time critical residential yard excavation in Washington County. The project included removal of lead contaminated soil at houses where children lived and where soil testing showed high levels of lead. A total of 16 residential yards were excavated and the contaminated soil replaced with clean soil. The DNR continued to provide bottled water to 52 residences that had lead present in the respective water supplies.
There are Natural Resource Damage Assessment Plans for the Big River — a pre-assessment screen and sediment assessment plan and toxicity study plan — and an assessment plan for the Southeast Missouri Lead Mining District, More information is available at http://www.dnr.mo.gov/env/hwp/sfund/nrda.htm.
In 2008, the DNR provided several types of financial assistance to Missouri’s citizens and communities. Through the Low-Income Weatherization Assistance Program, the department helped weatherize more than 1,900 Missouri homes in the past year, saving low-income Missourians an average of 13-14 percent on their utility bills.
The department approved more than $1.9 million in low-interest loans for the FY 2008 round of the Energy Loan Program. Six school districts and four county and city governments are using the loans to make energy-efficiency improvements that will save them more than $166,000 annually in energy costs.
The new Missouri Heritage Properties Program made $500,000 in grants available to communities to help preserve historic publicly owned buildings, with an emphasis on historic courthouses. A second round of grants for $1 million also was made available.
Through the State Revolving Fund, the department issued more than $77 million in subsidized, low-interest loans to 22 cities, regional water or regional sewer districts to improve drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities.
The department issued more than $10.7 million in grants to 33 cities, regional water or regional sewer districts to improve drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities. These grants were funded through bonds that were authorized to support Gov. Blunt’s Clean Water Initiative. For more information on financial assistance opportunities available through the department, go to http://www.dnr.mo.gov/pubs/pub753.pdf .
Expansion of sites
The State of Missouri also celebrated several successes that will expand the number of recreational, cultural and historical opportunities available throughout Missouri’s state park system.
Redevelopment plans for Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park continued and the park is expected to reopen to the public in 2009.
A Reynolds County Circuit Court judge officially signed the Taum Sauk settlement agreement. The settlement provides the DNR with the license needed to build a trail alongside the old Rock Island Railroad corridor from Windsor to Pleasant Hill. This trail will cross the current Katy Trail State Park at Windsor and will connect the Katy Trail to the Kansas City area.
The Missouri Department of Conservation transferred land along the Current River to the DNR for development of Current River State Park. The DNR also acquired 40 acres in Bates County that is associated with a Civil War milestone. The land is connected with the “Battle of Island Mound,” which reportedly was the first time black soldiers engaged in combat during the Civil War. For more information on Missouri’s state parks, see the Web site http://www.mostateparks.com.
To involve citizens in Missouri’s environmental efforts, the DNR continued to build upon its compliance assistance initiative. Several improvements made to the department’s Web site in 2008 make it easier for the public to find information, including tools that enable users to easily search Land Reclamation Permits and Biological Assessment Samples. There also is a survey system that allows the department to gather feedback on its programs.
The department continued to provide compliance assistance through its Ombudsman Program. Since inception of this program, the department’s seven ombudsmen have visited more than 6,900 citizens, community officials and businesses. The ombudsmen, along with Director Childers, held a series of 126 public meetings throughout Missouri, attended by more than 1,800 citizens.
The ombudsman for St. Francois County is Mike Alesandrini. He can be reached at 314-416-2960.
The department’s Field Services Division opened satellite offices in Boonville, Kirksville and Hannibal, bringing the number of satellite offices to 17. For a map of the department’s regional and satellite offices, visit http://www.dnr.mo.gov/regions/regions.htm.