Great Rivers Environmental Law Center sees Victory in Water Pollution Case

Great Rivers Environmental Law Center has reached an agreement to settle a lawsuit alleging ongoing, repeated and unlawful discharges of E. coli, Ammonia and other harmful water pollutants into the Big River by an out-of-state, regional property management company.

Great Rivers alleges that the Illinois-based company has far exceeded the allowable discharge limits from its wastewater lagoon, and the pollution from the lagoon has negatively impacted water quality of the Big River.

“Since 2015, the defendant had flagrantly disregarded several notices from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources that they were in significant non-compliance with their water pollution permit,” said Bob Menees, who served as Great Rivers’ lead attorney on the case.

“Unfortunately, they continued using Missouri’s shared waters as their private dumping ground.”

Great Rivers filed the action as a “citizen suit” under the Clean Water Act on behalf of Missouri Confluence Waterkeeper, whose members were concerned that the pollution discharges posed dangers to them when using the river for swimming, canoeing, kayaking, or other recreational activities and that the pollution would cause harm to wildlife, including several species of endangered freshwater mussel that are particularly sensitive to ammonia.

The defendant responded to the suit by entering into agreement with the Jefferson County Public Sewer District to take over control of the lagoon and connect it to their central sewer system, thus eliminating the source of pollution from the facility to the Big River.

“This is a good outcome for Missourians who care about protecting our water quality, and for everyone who frequently recreates on the Big River.” said Rachel Bartels, head of Missouri Confluence Waterkeeper. “We hope that other would-be polluters will take note that a ‘watchdog’ is out there – and ensure the safe, sustainable treatment of their pollution.”

The settlement additionally requires the company to pay for a supplemental environmental project to mitigate the facility’s pollution, which will be directed to support restoration and cleanup work in the Big River watershed.

You can read coverage of the case in the St. Louis Post Dispatch here.

Great Rivers Environmental Law Center is a Missouri-based public interest law firm that provides free and reduced-fee services to individuals, organizations and citizen groups working to protect the environment and public health. We receive no government funding and rely on donations to sustain our work.

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