April 2, 2009
Jefferson City, Mo. -- Attorney General Chris Koster, along with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and federal agencies, have reached an agreement with the city of Independence addressing sewer violations at the Rock Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant and the city's sewage-collection system.
According to the agreement, Independence unlawfully discharged millions of gallons of untreated raw sewage over the past few years, including overflows from pump stations and manholes. This raw sewage entered the Missouri River, Mill Creek, Rock Creek and their tributaries in violation of state and federal clean water laws.
The settlement includes separate agreements with the state and the federal government. Under the terms of the agreement with the state, Independence must upgrade the Rock Creek Treatment Facility and eliminate sanitary sewer overflows and bypasses by 2015. Under the federal consent decree, Independence must pay a $225,000 civil penalty, and spend at least $450,000 on a supplemental project to improve water quality within the Missouri River watershed by replacing fescue grass with native species and installing soil and bank stabilization measures to reduce pollution in the watershed.
"Missouri is known for its beautiful rivers and streams," Koster said. "It is our responsibility, as guardians of these treasures, to do everything in our power to pass them along to future generations, clean and unpolluted," he added.
The Attorney General noted that aging infrastructure is a problem for many communities. As sewer pipes corrode and fall apart they cannot adequately hold the sewage flowing through them.
"Many Missouri communities are struggling with aging infrastructure as well as federal mandates to eliminate sewage overflows. This agreement demonstrates that communities can take steps under a reasonable schedule to protect public health by eliminating sources of raw sewage," Koster said.
Independence's sewer-collection system collects wastewater from more than 50,000 customers and includes more than 500 miles of sewer lines. The Rock Creek plant serves about one-half of the residences and businesses of Independence, a small area of the city of Kansas City, and a majority of the town of Sugar Creek.