ST. CHARLES, Mo. – The City of St. Charles has officially filed a lawsuit against Ameren Missouri over water contamination and damages linked to the city’s Elm Point Wellfield.
City officials announced the intent to file a lawsuit against Ameren Missouri in March. Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency said the Ameren substation was the source of the city’s water well contamination.
Out of seven water wells powered through the wellfield, only one remains currently operational.
“Today is the culmination of many months of testing, evaluation, public outreach and tough decisions to ensure the City’s water is safe,” said St. Charles Mayor Dan Borgmeyer. “The City has spent millions of dollars and hundreds of staff hours in an effort to ensure the water is and continues to be safe, and to resolve the contamination issues caused by Ameren.”
Borgmeyer said the city has made efforts to resolve contamination issues and hold Ameren responsible financially, though claims the latest developments have not resulted in an “acceptable outcome.”
“The reputation of the City of St. Charles and St. Charles County has been damaged, and we believe we have exhausted all options, with the exception of legal action. As a result, on behalf of the citizens of St. Charles City and St. Charles County, the City and County have jointly filed a lawsuit against Ameren this morning,” said Borgmeyer.”
The water in the City of St. Charles is still safe to drink, but the city has had to purchase around $2 million of additional water from St. Louis over the past five years.
“We need to recover the expenses that our taxpayers have incurred to continue to provide safe drinking water to our community and implement a long-term, safe and sustainable solution,” said Borgmeyer. “Our citizens should not – and will not – bear that cost.”
Ameren Missouri says it has yet to review the lawsuit, though shared the following statement, in part, with FOX 2:
“Ameren Missouri has consistently focused on the continued safety of the drinking water in the City of St. Charles. We have tried to work collaboratively with the City.
Multiple agencies including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Missouri Department of Natural Resources have repeatedly confirmed that drinking water in St. Charles has been and remains safe.
EPA-approved and supervised measures at the Huster substation to contain and remove remnants of cleaning solvents used decades ago continue. We are making good progress on groundwater treatment and are providing regular progress report updates to EPA.“
Ameren plans to update about the situation at AmerenMissouri.com/StCharles.
St. Charles County also joined the City of St. Charles in the lawsuit against Ameren.
“The buildings you see here, other than city hall, are all county buildings, which depend upon county water for the people that come here,” said St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann.
Officials couldn’t disclose exact numbers, but the city is seeking millions of dollars in damages.
“Millions of dollars of costs to the reputation of the region, millions of dollars in costs that have already been expended, we’re dealing with the state law claims here,” said Jay Nixon, a lawyer for St. Charles City and County.
And the cleanup process is still ongoing.
“We’re still continuing to work with the EPA and Ameren on any cleanup activities.” said Nick Galla, St. Charles Director of Public Works. “The lawsuit that’s being filed today is related to damages for the things that have happened and already occurred.”
Two law firms, Dowd Bennett LLP and Blitz and Bardgett & Deustch L.C., are handling the non-superfund portion of a lawsuit against Ameren.