If you're visiting a Missouri State Park soon, don't drink the water.

That's the takeaway from a request for enforcement filed with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), which warned of "chronic" violations of clean water standards in several public drinking water systems, according to a Thursday report in The Riverfront Times.

The group said that testing has revealed the presence of coliform bacteria, along with E. coli. Encyclopedia Britannica says that coliform bacterial levels are typically used as the standard measurement for "evidence of recent human fecal contamination of water supplies."

PEER's letter (PDF) says that Missouri officials knew about more than a dozen clean water violations in the parks since 2010, but have failed to act. The most severe violations occurred as recently as 2012 in Camp Derricotte just northwest of St. Louis, they added.

But the problem goes back further than just 2010, PEER added. "A report released by the Missouri State Auditor in 2004 found 'numerous incidents where the state parks had not complied with federal and state drinking water regulations or division water testing policies, and therefore could not be assured that park visitors were provided water safe for consumption,'" they noted.

"Now is the time to address the safety of park water systems before many of them reopen to the public this spring,” PEER attorney Kathryn Douglass said in an advisory.


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