Water and sewer services to residences and businesses are essential. Most of us take for granted that the operations of those who provide these services are reliable and are regulated. In reality, many water and sewer providers fall through several holes in Missouri’s statutory framework of regulation by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC).
DNR sets engineering standards for water wells, treatment and storage facilities, and distribution systems (mains and valves). DNR licenses well drillers and maintains a registry describing each water well, based on data required to be submitted by well drillers. DNR does not regulate rates charged by water sellers, but does require that permanent entity (called a “continuing authority”) be established for each water system serving more than 15 users. A continuing authority for water is required to show DNR that it has the technical, managerial and financial capacity to operate the system, or at least that’s what the rules say. DNR implements its regulations by requiring submittal of engineering plans for the issuance of construction permits and certfications from private engineers that water and sewer facilities are completed according to the approved plans before issuance of operating and discharge permits. DNR also licenses operators of water and sewer facilities. Read the rest of this entry →