ST. CHARLES, Mo.–The city of St. Charles moves a step closer towards a lawsuit against Ameren over its polluted water well fields.
Wednesday, Mayor Dan Borgmeyer announced it has retained two law firms to look into the city’s case. The firms are Dowd Bennett LLP and Blitz, Bardgett & Deutsch LC, one in which former Gov. Jay Nixon is a partner.
“I am out of options, I have tried everything, we've done all we could and we are to the point now, the governor and his law firm are going to be coming in and taking charge of this and making sure we are following the right path down the future,” said Mayor Borgmeyer.
St. Charles had to shut down its sixth of seven wells in February due to what it says is contamination. The city has been purchasing drinking water from other areas for its residents for several years. The mayor says it comes at a financial burden for the city, which has dipped into its emergency fund to pay the bill.
An Ameren Missouri spokesperson said “We believe our shared goal is to continue protecting the drinking water supply. The best way to do that is to work together, as we recently detailed in a letter to the City of St. Charles where we identify a detailed plan of action moving forward. ”
EPA tests conducted in January identified an Ameren substation as the source of contamination at the Elm Point Wellfield. Ameren has already begun implementing several aggressive treatment techniques with additional steps to be taken soon.
Ameren Missouri adds that according to the EPA, “St. Charles’ drinking water supply meets the drinking water health standards established by Missouri’s Safe Drinking Water Law and EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Act. Water distributed to the public after treatment at the city's water treatment plant has been sampled regularly for VOCs, including vinyl chloride and DCE, since 2008 and has never shown any level of contamination."
The company has also provided information for St. Charles residents so they can better understand what it is doing to keep the drinking water safe in the city.
Earlier this year, an environmental consulting firm hired by the city says the current water treatment plant does not have the necessary equipment to remove the chemicals from the drinking water.
Nixon said the firms aren’t filing a suit yet and wouldn’t release specifics on damages sought. He did offer that a 2020 U.S. Supreme Court case laid out a clear path for state action at superfund sites like the one in St. Charles.
The former governor said the firms will “make sure tax payers of St. Charles are not the ones that end up footing the bill here.”
“It is vital to St. Charles that we are compensated fully for all damages and costs caused by the chemical pollution by Ameren,” remarked Borgmeyer.