What are unclassified waters and why are they important?
More than 85% of Missouri ’s streams have never been classified, meaning nearly 150,000 miles of streams receive inadequate protection from water pollution under Missouri ’s water quality laws. Unclassified streams are generally smaller than Missouri ’s larger, classified water bodies, but their protection is equally important given the disproportionate number of pollutant discharges into these waters. In fact, of all the pollution discharge permits that are issued in the State of Missouri , an overwhelming 82% authorize the dumping of pollutants into unclassified waters. More than thirty years after passage of the Clean Water Act, Missouri ’s unclassified waters are not even receiving the minimal protections required by the Act. Most of Missouri ’s waters are still not safe for aquatic life to live in or people to play in. Missouri ’s smaller streams are critical parts of our large river systems. They serve as feeder streams for our big rivers; they serve as nurseries for young fish. When they are not healthy, our bigger rivers are impacted.
What we want! What we have.
What is the Coalition doing about unclassified waters?
The classification of a water body gives it needed protection from pollution. While the Coalition would ultimately like to see all of Missouri’s waters classified, we recognize that the stream-by-stream classification of 146,000 miles of streams would take a very long time. The Coalition’s goal, therefore, is to gain adequate protections for unclassified waters until classification can be achieved. To that end, the Coalition is working to have Missouri’s Water Protection Program and the EPA provide adequate protections for these waters, making them safe for human recreation and aquatic life. The state and the EPA must step up and protect all our waters under the Clean Water Act.