Doyle Childers, former state senator and director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR), visited Cassville to discuss local environmental concerns involving his agency on June 27.
Childers began the meeting by explaining several different ways that the DNR is working to improve its procedures and permitting processes.
In an effort to make permit forms more accessible to the public, the DNR has made many of its permitting forms available on its website, said Childers. The department has also located satellite offices in several areas around the state, which has decreased the amount of time scientists spend traveling to locations to review issues.
"When scientists are on the road that is not productive use of their time," said Childers. "Our goal is to have them within an hour and a half of most locations. Getting these systems working and the process in place will save time and effort for our people."
At the conclusion of Childers introduction, he gave members of the public an opportunity to ask questions concerning local environmental issues.
A concerned citizen from Shell Knob addressed Childers about a septic system violation that has been turned over to Johnnie Cox, Barry County prosecuting attorney. Local citizens asked Childers if there is anything DNR can do to speed up the prosecution process.
"There is nothing in the law that deals with this,"?said Childers. "It is going to take statewide legislation. It's tough because it is the department of health's jurisdiction versus ours."
"Would you like to see that in your jurisdiction?" asked Rep. David Sater, who was also in attendance at the meeting.
"It is a huge problem that no one wants to take on," said Childers. "It's a matter of funding. We don't have the funding to deal with it. That is why it has been a headache for so many years. It would take millions of dollars to deal with this problem."
Jim Reidel, of Eagle Rock, addressed Childers concerning a chicken pullet operation that is under construction off of Highway F between Roaring River State Park and Eagle Rock. DNR has approved a permit that will allow the property owners to spread the chicken manure on their land, said Reidel.
"There is no way that is going to stay out of the water," said Reidel.
"If the manure is spread under the agronomical limits it will not contaminate the water," said Childers. "It all depends on how and where the manure is applied."
According to Childers, a DNR representative would be assigned to monitor the property and make sure manure is applied according to regulations.
"We don't monitor every site on a regular basis," said Childers. "This one will be monitored more sensitively than some others because of its location.
"We are doing the best we can do and that is all we can do," said Childers. "I?have a huge problem with people who want to tell others what to do with their land. We cannot protect every natural resource in the state to the level that everyone wants, but I?assure you Missouri has a much better control on it than many other states do."
Decisions made by DNR can be appealed through the state clean water or hazardous waste commissions. If the land owner fills the legal requirements for an operation, DNR will issue an operating permit, said Childers.
Near the end of the meeting, Childers also discussed proposed improvements for testing drinking water wells and a study that is being conducted across the state to monitor the effects of deep water wells on shallow wells.
Studies are also being conducted on waterways that cross Missouri's boundary lines. These studies will be used to measure local water levels and aquifers.