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Koster to hold two-day symposium on water quality issues at Lake of the Ozarks

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 11, 2010 - With pollution closing some Lake of the Ozarks' public beaches, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster plans to hold a symposium next week on the lake's water quality problems.

Gov. Jay Nixon is to kick off the two-day gathering, set for next Wednesday and Thursday.

According to Koster's office, "The purpose of the public symposium is to explore the total range of water quality issues confronting the Lake of the Ozarks today and over the next 20 years."

Today, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources announced that swimming beaches at two state parks "will be closed this weekend due to E. coli levels higher than the standards" set by the department. Such announcements have been common throughout the summer.

The affected beaches this weekend are Public Beach 1 at Lake of the Ozarks State Park, and Wakonda State Park Beach.

E. coli is a bacteria that generally comes from human and animal waste and feces.

The state Department of Natural Resources is closing beaches whenever "a single sample is above 235 E. coli colonies per 100 milliliters of water, which is also the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s single-sample guideline for a swimming beach."

The department's aggressive action comes after the controversy last summer over a delay in closing beaches that exceeded in the standards. Nixon ended up firing or disciplining some DNR officials.