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Mo. Senate Democrats dissent on E. coli report

Lake of the Ozarks.
Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio
Lake of the Ozarks.

By Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

Jefferson City, Mo. – Democratic members of a Missouri Senate committee have issued a report criticizing the Republican chairman's inquiry into last year's delayed release of E. coli test results from the Lake of the Ozarks.

State Senator Brad Lager (R, Savannah) chairs the Senate Committee on the Environment. Last week he released a report that was highly critical of the Department of Natural Resources, and recommended that oversight of water quality be transferred to the Department of Health and Senior Services (HSS).

State Senator Timothy Green (D, St. Louis) says Lager's inquiry turned into a "political witch hunt."

"Rife with intimidation, threats of subpoenas, blanket demands for all communications of all DNR employees, and strategic press leaks of selected facts intended to inflict political harm to the (Nixon) administration," Green said.

The report was also co-authored by State Senators Joan Bray (D, St. Louis) and Jolie Justus (D, Kansas City).

Lager denies the accusation that he's conducted a "witch hunt."

"The Department of Natural Resources violated the public trust (and) integrity, and in doing so, they put the citizens and the visitors of this state at risk...that's a fact," Lager said.

The "minority report" also says more study is needed before any transfer of responsibility for water quality from DNR to HSS takes place. Lager suggests, though, that DNR, under its current leadership, cannot be trusted to provide accurate information.