Weston incurs federal fine for foul wastewater test results

The City of Weston recently encountered a bit of trouble with the federal government, and it will cost them.The Board of Aldermen held a special meeting Sept. 26 to authorize Mayor Howard Hellebuyck to sign an order of compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency. Due to Clean Water Act violations that occurred in 2013, the city will be forced to pay an $11,000 fine and will have three years to clean up its act.

City clerk Kim Kirby said the fine will be paid from the general fund, which has a surplus, and should not overly affect the budget at this point.

The EPA found the city non-compliant with its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. According to the EPA report, an inspector collected wastewater samples, reviewed records and observed the treatment facility during an inspection from Nov. 5-8, 2013. The inspector reported observation of discharges of effluent, or liquid sewage, into the Missouri River in violation of the NPDES permit, numerous gaps and omissions in monitoring and reporting influent and effluent flows, failure to properly complete monthly monitoring reports and failure to maintain records for the period of time required by the NPDES permit.

The EPA found the city at fault on three counts, although some occurred during the Missouri River flood of 2011.

Some of the monthly reporting gaps occurred while the wastewater lagoon and lift station were submerged under river water. The city also provided the EPA with information on repairs conducted after the 2011 flood.

During the flood, the city failed to monitor influent biochemical oxygen demands and the total suspended solids in wastewater, which is a technical violation of the NPDES terms. Count two found the city failed to comply with effluent monitoring schedules, although some leeway was allowed between June 2011 and June 2012 due to the flood. Count three dealt with numerous failures in compliance with effluent limitations, dating back to 2009.

The EPA ruled the city has three years to come into compliance with standards and must take whatever actions necessary to correct the deficiencies and eliminate and prevent recurrence.

Within the next two months, the city must enroll in an electronic monthly reporting program in order to file its reports with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. It must also install an effluent filtering baffle and repair or install six aerators of varying horsepower. Within a year, the city must file a report that measures have been taken to train staff and ensure members complete required training courses and install and maintain monitoring devices.

By November 2017, the city must certify it has taken all measures necessary for compliance with its NPDES permit and submit semi-annual reports on progress.