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MSD board approves settlement on Clean Water violations

(Ted Heisel/Missouri Coalition for the Environment)
The Metropolitan Sewer District has until 2034 to remove 200 of these illegal sewer bypasses under a Clean Water Act lawsuit settlement approved today.

The board of the Metropolitan Sewer District has approved a settlement with the federal government and a local environmental action group over violations of the Clean Water Act.

The state of Missouri was also a party to the 2007 lawsuit, but did not approve the settlement.

The agreement will, among other things, require MSD to:

  • 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;
  • 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
  • Spend $100 million on "green infrastructure" like rain gardens to reduce the amount of storm water flowing into the system.

The settlement is likely to cause an increase in monthly sewer rates. They are already scheduled to hit $29 in July. The district's rate commission is still working to determine the best way to raise the money needed to fund the required improvements.
The settlement still needs a judge's approval. An MSD spokesman says he's not sure what the state's disagreement with the settlement means for that step.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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