Ozarks waterways: A beautiful resource

So much for my plans to offer a more light-hearted blog this month: I should have known better in the heart of winter and during such political divisiveness. So this month’s post is a both rant and hope for early spring.

I’m sure most have seen it by now, but amidst the week’s dark headlines, one in particular sent chills down my hunched-over spine, for both its immediate impact and long-term repercussions: Trump Removes Pollution Controls on Streams and Wetlands.” 

This article is from The New York Times on Jan. 20, 2020. According to the article, Trump calls these regulations “horrible” and “destructive.”

In contrast, one water policy expert cited in the story calls the changes “the biggest loss of clean water protection the country has ever seen.”

Waterfowl hunters, float trippers, stream fishermen and women, you had better take note. These are your wetlands, your headwater streams, and your creeks that have been protected for decades back, some all the way to the 1972 Clean Water Act. Restrictions on dumping pesticides and fertilizers, and destroying and filling in wetlands, are gone. And, everyone, our drinking water will be put at risk, too.

My rants about Senate Bill 391, and its potential impact on our water-based economy and drinking water sources in the Ozarks, are but a symptom of this broader malaise.

So, it’s not only Missouri legislators and some local leaders who have caved in to corporate ag, real estate developers, and fossil fuel producers and their lobbyists. The entire country that has been bought and sold.

Science be dammed, and purveyors of environmental concern and affection step side. It’s another of close to 100 environmental rules and laws reversed, or in the process of being rolled back, by the Trump administration.

If that’s not enough, I just read in the local paper that Missouri’s Senate Majority Floor Leader observed that “voters didn’t understand what they were doing” when they passed the “Clean Missouri” Amendment by a 62% majority in 2018 to clean up state politics, including the partisan redistricting process. 

Say what? 62% of Missouri’s voters “didn’t understand?” And then another state senator had the nerve to “offer the public another opportunity” to understand?

This is right up there with supporters of legislation that eliminated a requirement for four of seven members of the Missouri Clean Water Commission, the state’s CAFO regulator which I have referenced before, to be independent. Legislators said that members of the public lack the expertise to make good decisions regarding the effects of industry on the state’s waterways.

And local political leaders succumbing to the politics of fear when it came to passing a simple resolution condemning the loss of local control that accompanied SB 391. “This creates a very large risk for us given how helpful the delegation was…”

These comments have leaked out of the mouths of politicians who seem to forget who elected them in the first place.

I think I will just go back to bed and see if it’s sunny tomorrow.

But wait: There are leaks of brightness through the gloom.  

Waters rush and roll (Courtesy of Steve Uzzell)

Waste lagoon cleanup has begun on the Buffalo River CAFO. Close to 2,000,000 gallons of liquid excrement will be transported outside the Buffalo River watershed. It won’t be easy or cheap, as in three-quarter-million dollars not covered in the original $6.2 million buy-out. And some are concerned that they won’t be digging deep enough.

But it is heartening that it will soon be gone.

The immediate lessons in this are how much damage can be done in a short period of time by ill-conceived and located CAFOs (resulting in inclusion on America’s top ten endangered rivers list), and how difficult and expensive they are to get rid of.

And, there is now one more credible source of information on CAFOs in and around the Ozarks. The James River Basin Partnership has added a tab to their website: CAFOs and the James River Basin. Check it out!

Finally, the brave folks of Cedar County and their fellow litigators have their day in court on February 19. A win could slow the raid on local controls and regulation of CAFOs through health and zoning ordinances.

In the end, it is all about education and listening to voters. There is hope in that. Maybe even enough to take a crack at humor next month.


Coming next, March 1, 2020 – ON A LIGHTER NOTE?