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Lawmakers file bills to hold those who contaminated St. Charles water accountable

The bills would require the Missouri DNR to transfer evidence to the attorney general, who can bring a civil action against those found responsible.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — After the City of St. Charles shut down five of its seven wells due to contamination and bought millions of gallons of water from the City of St. Louis to fill the gap, Missouri lawmakers want to hold whoever contaminated the water accountable.

On Thursday, State Rep. Phil Christofanelli (R-St. Peters) and State Sen. Bill Eigel (R-Weldon Springs) announced the filing of legislation in response to the growing issue.

The Environmental Protection Agency began testing at the Elm Point Wellfield in St. Charles earlier this week to find out who contaminated the water.

Mayor Dan Borgmeyer alleged Ameren Missouri was responsible for the contamination and the cleanup, but Ameren said further testing, which the EPA is now doing, would be needed to identify the source.

According to a release from the office of Christofanelli, HB 837 and SB 483 would require the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to share its evidence of contamination with Attorney General Andrew Bailey so he may bring a civil action against "any entity" found responsible for tainting the public water system.

“The people of St. Charles should not have to worry about the quality of their drinking water,” Christofanelli said in a statement. “Those who have contaminated the water in St. Charles must bear the cost of their mistake – not the taxpayer.”

Once civil action is taken, a court could order those responsible to pay damages and the cost of remediation.

"I look forward to working with my colleagues from the St. Charles delegation to advocate for a state appropriation to make necessary infrastructure repairs and improvements to our water systems," Eigel said.

According to Borgmeyer, the city will launch an independent investigation in late January and install 26 permanent monitoring wells at 13 locations to repeatedly sample groundwater.

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