Re-definition of Federal Water poses problems for some cities at the Lake of the Ozarks

Oct 20, 2014

Credit bsabarnowl / flickr

  The cities of Osage Beach and Lake Ozark have written a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency expressing community concerns regarding the proposed re-definition of the phrase "Water of the United States."  In Osage Beach, the new definition will affect 4,500 full time residents and over twice that many in vacation home owners. 

Osage Beach City Administrator Nancy Viselli said it would interfere with routine maintenances.

"We're concerned that the new regulations would have an impact on our day to day routine as far as cleaning out ditches and things like that around the city and I don't think that was the intention of this legislation," she said.  

The new definition includes roadside ditches and storm water channels under Federal Waters. This would require the city to complete additional applications necessary to work within the "Waters of the United States." The city would also require additional monitoring. Routine maintenance would also need to be reported. That would include reporting for routine maintenance, such as the following.

·         Removal of vegetation (mowing) in and along roadside ditches

·         Installing or replacing utility poles, streets signs, and traffic control devices on the banks of ditches following motor vehicle accidents or natural disasters

·         Placing stone into or removing stone from ditches and storm water channels to facilitate, control, and mitigate damage from storm water transport

·         Removing plant or mineral debris from ditches or storm water channels as regular maintenance to avoid flooding streets and other city property

·         Reshape bank cuts for existing ditches and storm water channels to reduce soil erosion

Lake Ozark City Administrator Dave Van Dee said they were also concerned about the proposed definition.

"If they went forward with what they proposed and you take it into literal interpretation for us to go into a culvert replacement could require us to go through an additional permitting process, which could delay the project, which could inadvertently increase the potential for damage to surrounding property," he said.

The EPA has chosen to extend its comment period deadline from Oct. 20 until Nov. 14 because there have been several concerns about this change since the draft was published back in April.

Both Osage Beach and Lake Ozark propose that roadway ditches, open storm ways, and other construction water channels remain excluded from the re-definition of Federal Waters.