Scott Dye, program director for The National Sierra Club Water Sentinels Program was spot on today when he said “DNR stands for Do Not Release.” The State of Missouri’s Department of Natural Resources decided not to release evidence of excessive E. coli levels in the Lake of the Ozarks in an ill-conceived and dangerous attempt to protect local revenues.
Karen Dillon, reporter for the Kansas City Star has been following the story. She writes:
The Kansas City Star reported last week that DNR withheld the report that showed almost three dozen water samples taken around the lake after Memorial Day weekend exceeded state standards. DNR did not release the report until June 26 even though the agency had received several requests.
Top DNR officials told The Star they withheld the report because of concerns over the impact on tourism and over creating a public panic.
Now, Missouri State Senator Brad Lager was calling for a thorough review of DNR’s actions. The Attorney General has also launched an investigation. The review is important “to ensure public safety and for a healthy vibrant tourism industry,” Lager said in a statement.
Governor Jay Nixon has stated the DNR was wrong not to release the report.
E. coli is the name for a broad family of bacteria that includes E. coli O157:H7, and other shiga-toxin producing strains of the bacteria. Ordinary E. coli testing does not differentiate between strains. Regardless of the strain or strains involved, excessive levels of E. coli pose a threat to human health.