What is anti-degradation?
Anti-degradation is a federal law designed to protect the water quality of our nation’s waters. It aims to keep clean streams clean by ensuring that the amount of pollution a discharger adds to a stream will not lower that stream’s water quality. Federal regulations require each state to develop its own anti-degradation policy and specific procedures for implementing that policy. The goal is to protect the water quality gains achieved since passage of the Clean Water Act (CWA). In the thirty-plus years of the CWA, Missouri has never applied anti-degradation considerations to its water discharge permits.
What is Missouri’s record on anti-degradation?
Like so many states, Missouri is sprawling away from its core cities and across its countryside. The relentless march of development places ever-increasing burdens on the water quality of our rivers and streams and is eroding many of the water quality gains achieved over the past three decades. Without protections to keep clean streams clean, dirtier steams are inevitable under current conditions. Missouri needs to preserve the best of our waters, and ensure that the growing number of people, pavement, and pollution do not destroy them. Given these realities, it is essential that Missouri finally start implementing its anti-degradation policy.
Why is anti-degradation urgent and what is the Coalition doing about it?
While Missouri has had an anti-degradation policy for some time, it still lacks regulations controlling how that policy gets implemented. After participating in a year-long process to develop those rules, the Coalition is happy to report that the state now has draft implementation regulations. If all goes well, those draft regulations will be finalized in August 2008. The Coalition will be watching carefully to ensure that the state adheres to its rulemaking schedule. Once the rules are finalized, it will be up to the state to enforce those rules, and the Coalition will be carefully monitoring anti-degradation reviews to ensure adequate protection of water quality.