In less than two months, a new state law will answer a question considered by many Missouri kayakers, canoers and float tubers: cans or bottles?
Legislation signed Wednesday by Gov. Bob Holden will prohibit glass bottles on all Missouri waterways in watercraft that are susceptible to tipping. The law becomes effective Aug. 28.
The law is intended to promote safety while benefiting the environment and tourism, said Rep. Randy Angst, R-Lebanon. The legislation was supported by a variety of canoe and kayak rental businesses because broken glass had become a safety hazard. Supporters had been pushing for the new law for more than three years
“This legislation addresses issues on Missouri floating streams as a result of broken glass that slowly decomposes and puts our families at danger or risk for cuts,” said Angst, who sponsored the bill during the 2004 legislative session.
The new law will make possession of glass bottles a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine of up to $300 and/or 15 days in jail. Another part of the bill will subject floaters who don’t store food and beverages inside a secure, floating container to the same penalties.
A glass bottle policy similar to the one that Holden signed into law Wednesday has been in effect at the Ozark National Scenic Riverways for six years. Martin Towery, acting chief ranger of the Ozark river ways, said the glass ban has had a positive impact.
“I think it will cut down on the injuries, primarily the little kids who are usually the people who are barefooted,” Martin said.
The Missouri State Water Patrol, which will be primarily responsible for enforcement, will post signs around river ways and talk to canoe and kayak outfitters to make sure floaters are familiar with the law. The new rules also will be printed in the next edition of the Missouri Watercraft Regulation handbook.
Nick Humphrey, public information officer for the water patrol, said the new law will reduce litter spilled into the rivers and will preserve the waterways for future generations.
Holden signed the bill, along with four others, at the Darr Agricultural Center at Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield.