City to pay civil penalty, construct wetland area
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 7 reached a proposed settlement of Clean Water Act violations by the city of Columbia, Mo., involving pollutant discharges from the Columbia Landfill and Yard Waste Composting Facility. As part of the settlement, the city agreed to pay a civil penalty of $54,396 and perform a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) involving the construction of a wetland area at a cost of no less than $475,000.
An EPA inspection in April 2014 found the landfill and composting facility (5700 Peabody Road) discharged pollutants into Hinkson Creek that were in excess of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit limits. Hinkson Creek is currently on Missouri’s list of impaired waters for E. coli and other unknown pollutants.
The facility was also found by EPA to have failed to meet its permit limits for biochemical and chemical oxygen demand, total suspended solids, and iron, and failed to maintain storm water best management practices and implement good housekeeping procedures.
Under a proposed administrative settlement with EPA, the construction of the wetland area will be designed to further reduce the quantity and concentration of pollutants from the landfill’s outfall prior to their discharge into Hinkson Creek.
As part of a separate order from EPA, Columbia will submit a plan to EPA describing how the city will come into compliance with the Clean Water Act. The city will also submit quarterly updates, which will be posted along with discharge monitoring reports on the city’s website so the public can follow the city’s efforts and their effectiveness.
The Clean Water Act seeks to protect streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources. Pollutants in storm water can violate water quality standards, pose risks to human health, threaten aquatic life and its habitat, and impair the use and enjoyment of waterways. Protecting streams and wetlands is also part of adapting to climate change impacts like drought, stronger storms and warmer temperatures.
The proposed settlement is subject to a 40-day public comment period before it becomes final. Information about submitting comments is available at www.epa.gov/ks/region-7-table-clean-water-act-public-notices.