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MSD board gives preliminary approval to Clean Water lawsuit settlement

(via Flickr/Paul Sableman)
MSD crews make repairs along Hampton Ave. in 2010. The agency's Board of Trustees gave its approval last night to a settlement that will require $4.7 billion in infrastructure upgrades over 23 years.

The Board of Trustees for the Metropolitan Sewer District gave its initial approval last night to a multi-billion dollar plan to settle a Clean War Act lawsuit.

The state of Missouri and the EPA filed the suit in 2007, which the Missouri Coalition for the Environment later joined. It alleged, among other things that

"On at least 7,000 occasions between at least 2001 and 2005, and upon information and belief continuing to the present, MSD has discharged pollutants containing raw sewage ... into public and private property, including without limitation, streets, yards, public parks and playground areas, and into buildings, including homes, located in the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County, where persons have or may have come into contact with such sewage."

Here are some of the highlights of the settlement:

  • MSD will make $4.7 billion in improvements over the next 23 years, including eliminating about 200 sanity sewer bypasses that dump raw sewage into local streams.
  • The agency will also pay a $1.2 million civil penalty, set aside $1.6 million for environmental repairs for low-income customers, and cover the legal costs of the Coalition, which total about $116,000
  • The settlement will cause monthly sewer rates to rise - $29 in July, $47 by the end of 2015 and nearly $80 by the end of the decade. The agency says that increase could happen sooner if voters don't approve a $945 million bond issue, which may go on the ballot in April.

The state of Missouri has not given its approval to the settlement. The attorney general's office says not all of the issues have been addressed.
The MSD trustees could give their final approval on June 29.

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.

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