City of St. Charles calling for more accountability from EPA, Ameren following contaminated water

City down to three wells after four were shut down
Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 7:24 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Officials with the City of St. Charles are calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to hold Ameren Missouri more accountable for contaminated water.

On Wednesday, St. Charles officials held a press conference on increased levels of contamination in their water wells. The city said four of its seven water wells are not operational because of unsafe levels of cis-1 and 2-dichloroethene. These chemicals make up a solvent used for things like metal cleaning.

St. Charles Mayor Dan Borgmeyer said the contamination seeps into groundwater from Ameren’s substation on Huster Road in St. Charles. The four wells near the site are now offline. Borgmeyer said one well went offline in 2005, the next in 2011 and the latest two in 2022.

Borgmeyer emphasized that the city’s drinking water is still safe. The city has spent about $2 million on drinking water from the City of St. Louis to make up for the reduction in water production over the last five years, according to the city.

Borgmeyer said the costs of purchasing water from St. Louis is passed down to the taxpayers.

“We’re also concerned the contamination is progressing to even more of our wells,” Borgmeyer added.

The EPA is in the process of finalizing a consent decree with Ameren to ensure the safety of St. Charles’ water.

Borgmeyer wants Ameren to pay for upgrades to the city’s treatment center and relocation of water wells.

Ameren Missouri sent the following response to News 4:

“Almost a decade ago, Ameren Missouri initiated aggressive actions to help protect well water in the City of St. Charles, following a detailed investigation to determine whether our Huster Substation could be a potential source for contamination. Following this work, the United States Environmental Protection Agency determined Ameren’s proactive efforts protected the local water supply.

About one mile from our substation is a “Superfund” cleanup site. Ameren Missouri has no association with this site.

As a good steward of the environment, Ameren Missouri strongly supports additional groundwater testing and further study of a sewer line that runs through the area. We also support the EPAs consent decree in this case, which describes the actions taken to date as well as the site remedy selected by the EPA following a robust public process. We also support extending the public comment period and look forward to continuing to work closely with federal, state and local officials.”

Public input for the consent agreement between the EPA and Ameren is currently open.