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


The Department of Natural Resources has reached a settlement with the city of Columbia for $10,663.64 following multiple water main breaks between 2017 and 2019 that resulted in the death of 11,401 aquatic organisms.

In court documents, the DNR says the Columbia Water Treatment Plant that supplies drinking water to the City of Columbia in Boone County had three incidents in which a water main broke. water contaminated nearby waterways, causing the death of thousands of aquatic organisms.

The first incident reported by MNR was in September 2017, when ministry staff responded to a report of a fish kill in Mill Creek. The investigation found that approximately 0.5 miles of the watercourse had been impacted, killing 1,934 aquatic organisms, with a total value of $584.30.

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

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

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

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

Sydney Olsen, spokeswoman for the City of Columbia, said water outages like this happen for a number of reasons.

“Weather plays a big role in things like water main breaks, and that’s why you can’t anticipate them, because if, for example, the temperature drops drastically or something causes the ground to shift , it can impact the infrastructure,” Olsen said.

However, Julie Ryan, who is the co-founder of Como Safe Water Coalition, says she advocated for the city to stop the use of chloramine and instead use alternative methods with chlorine to decontaminate the water in order to mitigate the damage when the water pipe breaks happen.

“So when these water main breaks happen, and they release and drain all that water, that ammonia is toxic to aquatic life, and that’s the part of the problem that’s why we don’t even want to that we use it in our drinking water,” Ryan said.

MNR says it won’t comment until the settlement is enforced.