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Department of Natural Resources settles with the City of Columbia for $10,000 over water main breaks


The Department of Natural Resources has settled with the City of Columbia for $10,663.64 following multiple water main breaks between 2017 and 2019 that resulted in 11,401 aquatic organisms dying.

In court documents, the DNR says that the Columbia's water treatment plant that provides potable water for the City of Columbia in Boone County had three incidents where a water main break contaminated nearby waterways resulting in the death of thousands of aquatic organisms.

The first reported incident from the DNR was in September of 2017 when the Department's staff responded to a report of a fish kill at Mill Creek. The investigation found that approximately 0.5 miles of the stream were impacted killing 1,934 aquatic organisms, resulting in a total value of $584.30.

The second incident occurred in January 2018, when the DNR responded to an unpermitted discharge at the pump station. The incident was caused by a mechanical failure of a control valve that resulted in 38,000 gallons of chlorinated drinking water being discharged into Mill Creek. The incident caused 5,320 aquatic organisms to die, and cost $2,362.62.

The third incident took place in July of 2018 when the department was notified of a fish kill near Keene Street. The discharge impacted 1.2 miles of stream, killed 2,595 aquatic organisms, and cost $693.42.

The last incident listed in the court documents took place in April of 2019 when the department responded to North Providence Road for a reported water line break that resulted in 1,552 aquatic organisms dying with a total value of $257.89.

These investigations totaled $10,663.72, which DNR is requesting to be reimbursed by the City of Columbia.

Sydney Olsen, spokeswoman for the City of Columbia, says water breaks like this happen due to a number of reasons.

"Weather plays a big part in things like water main breaks, and that's why you can't anticipate them, because if say the temperature drops drastically, or something causes the ground to shift, that can have an impact on the infrastructure," said Olsen.

However, Julie Ryan, who is the co-founder of Como Safe Water Coalition, says she has been advocating for the city to stop the use of chloramine, and instead use alternative methods along with chlorine to decontaminate the water to mitigate damages when water line breaks happen.

"So when those water main breaks happen, and it's releasing and discharging all of that water, that ammonia is toxic to aquatic life, and that is the part of the problem on why we don't even want us to be using it in our drinking water," said Ryan.

DNR says they will not comment until the settlement has been executed.

Article Topic Follows: Columbia
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Marina Diaz

Marina is a Multimedia Journalist for ABC 17 News, she is originally from Denver, Colorado. She went to Missouri Valley College where she played lacrosse and basketball, and anchored her school’s newscast.


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