ST. CHARLES, Mo. – The City of St. Charles has shut down five of its seven wells due to contamination. It is now reduced to two wells that are open.
The Public Works Department closed the well in Elm Point Wellfield, its largest well.
“These are similar contaminants that we’ve had in our other wells, and we feel like this is just further evidence that contamination coming from Ameren substation is not contained within the substation and is continuing to migrate and spread,” said Nick Galla, director of the St. Charles Public Works Department.
Galla said that the drinking water is still safe to drink because the well was shut down as soon as contaminants were found.
Craig Giesmann, Director of Environmental Services at Ameren Missouri, released the following statement:
“The City of St. Charles and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have emphasized that the drinking water in St. Charles is safe. Ameren Missouri is committed to the safety of the St. Charles community and remains strongly supportive of additional EPA-directed testing in the Elm Point Wellfield. As the EPA referenced multiple times in a public meeting on November 17, the source of the groundwater contamination is unknown. The contamination source must first be determined before pursuing a remedy, and the good news is that EPA says it intends to have that source testing done soon. As EPA stated at its public meeting, Ameren Missouri has voluntarily worked for over a decade to clean up contamination from the Huster substation site, and years of monitoring data show that clean-up work has been successful.
We share the same goals with our fellow St. Charles residents and businesses in keeping drinking water clean and safe. Ameren Missouri has a strong record of environmental stewardship, and we intend to continue working collaboratively with the City of St. Charles, the EPA, and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources by sharing data and information.”
It has forced the city to purchase more water from the City of St. Louis instead of producing it at a lower cost. Galla said it costs them 30% more.
The water treatment plant is operating at 25% capacity. The city used to be able to produce 6 million gallons of water a day. Now, it is down to 1.5 million gallons.
“We need to have upgrades to our treatment plant while we have time to relocate the well field,” Galla said. “And we feel that these additional treatments and the well field needs to be at the cost of the polluter and not our city repairs.”
The Public Works Department has shared its findings with the EPA and DNR.
The EPA has extended the public comment period to March 6.