The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District Board of Trustees (MSD) has approved a consent decree that would settle a federal lawsuit. However, not all parties are partial to the agreement.
On June 11, 2007, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the state of Missouri filed a civil action suit, alleging MSD was in violation of the Clean Water Act of 1972. The Missouri Coalition for the Environment joined the suit after it was filed.
All parties involved have been working on mediation efforts throughout the last four years with the result being the consent decree. However, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has decided against signing the agreement.
Nanci Gonder, a spokeswoman for Koster said in an email: "We are not signing the consent decree because we have not been able to reach agreement on all issues we have with MSD." She added that she could not comment further because “the issue is still pending.”
The decree would require MSD to make roughly $4.7 billion in improvements and updates to its sewer systems and wastewater treatment plants over a 23-year period. The agreement would also include $2.8 million in civil penalties.
MSD spokesman Lance Lecomb told Patch previously that the recent rate increase proposals were developed with the mediation of the lawsuit in mind. He added that additional increases would be needed in the future in order to fully implement the improvements outlined in the decree.
District staff had presented two proposals to the MSD Rate Commission to help fund a capital improvement plan of slightly more than $1 billion.
One was a $945-million bond issue to be placed on the April ballot. It would raise the average homeowner’s monthly bill by nearly 64 percent throughout the course of four years.
The other proposal would be to fund the improvements using cash only. With that option, homeowners would see a 155-percent rate hike next year, which would bring the average homeowner’s bill from $28.73 to $73.35 a month.
The two proposals were introduced to the commission on May 10, Lacomb said. It could decide on a range between the low and high options.
The commission has up to 165 days to decide on the proposal before making a recommendation to the district’s board. However, it has requested a 45-day extension to that deadline, which has been approved by the board.
Before the decree is finalized, it would go to the EPA and the coalition for agreement--a process that could take a few months, Lecomb said. The decree would then be filed with the judge, and the public would have 30 days to comment on the document.
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