After several weeks of meetings to discuss health concerns surrounding Confined Animal Feed Operations (CAFOs) and general air and water quality standards, Darrell Hendrickson, the environmental health study group chairman, presented a recommendation to the Moniteau County Health Board on how to move forward.
The recommendation, which was given at the Aug. 5 health board special meeting is as follows:
"We recommend the health board establishes a monitoring program for air and water quality for the health of Moniteau County," Hendrickson said. "Air standards include hydrogen sulfide to be .07, ammonia at 1.7 and particulate matter at 2.5 and 10. These levels are EPA standards. We also recommend that water systems be monitored for bacteria and nitrates using standards set by the Department of Health and Senior Services. In addition to this, all five water sheds in the county will be monitored for water quality."
Following this recommendation, James Canter, chairman of the Moniteau County Health Board charged the board to proceed with the committee's recommendations.
"I charge the board to draw up procedures to monitor and record air and water including the wells, which we are already doing," Canter said. "We've been taking samples for a number of years now. But we're going to add streams, lakes, watersheds and ask that the staff get to work on this."
Canter said the health board gives containers to farmers in order for samples to be taken. Once the samples are collected, they are sent to the state to get tested. Currently, there is no charge to the board for this procedure.
"The way we monitor the streams is essentially the same," Canter said. "As for the air, there are systems out there that test this. We report anything to the individuals who are affected by this. Then the individuals or farmers can take whatever action they desire. But the DNR will not come out unless it falls in their specific guidelines."
These guidelines were further explained in the context of larger farming operations by study group member Sarah Hodges.
"I've been in touch with the DNR multiple times," Hodges said. "I asked them for a water and air expert to come and test the area, but they couldn't. They told me DNR only has the authority to enforce water and air standards on IA CAFOS, which are the largest. They will not come out for IB or IC CAFOS. Tipton East is (getting) an IC. Even if we were to report that an air standard has been violated, the DNR said they would not come out because it's an IC. I was told they could not enforce a violation because they do not have the authority to."
Public discussion at the meeting was divided regarding whether the Health Board's efforts should apply more specifically to CAFOs or rather to overall public health without considering such operations.
Literature on the next steps of monitoring the affected area surrounding Tipton East, which is in Cooper County but also on the Moniteau County line, will be written by the board to administer to staff of the health center. The writing will be under the same goals the board originally stands by, board member Diane Weicken said.
"We have received overwhelming support for a regulation," Weicken said. "And I'm talking about air and water quality regulation. we feel that as a board, something like that is very important. We also feel that our hands are tied because of money. So I just want you to know that we as a health board are here to protect the health of Moniteau County, and that is exactly what we want to do. It is very important to us to protect our children and our grandchildren."