St. Charles takes legal action against Ameren over contaminated water wells

St. Charles riverfront shot from above
Photo credit Getty Images

The City of St. Charles has hired two law firms — the Dowd Bennet law firm and the Blitz law group — to go after Ameren Missouri, asserting that the company is to blame for the solvent that got into the city’s wellfield and forced the city to shut down six of its seven drinking wells.

“My position today, and the reason you all are here and the reason I’m here, is I'm out of options,” Mayor Dan Borgmeyer said in his announcement. “I’ve tried everything, we’ve done all we could.”

Mayor Borgmeyer said the city’s top priority is to ensure that drinking water is safe for residents, and that he and other city officials will continue to take all necessary steps to ensure it stays that way. However, he said, the process comes with a high price tag.

“We have spent a great deal of money on our efforts to keep our drinking water safe,” he said. “And now we are currently in the process of spending even more to put into place the treatment components at our water facility necessary to treat the water that Ameren has been found by the EPA to have contaminated.”

Former Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, who’s now a lawyer with Dowd Bennet, also took the podium, and seconded Borgmeyer’s statement, calling out Ameren.

“Consequently, as we move through both the science and the facts, that is where our target is, to make sure that they make the people here fully taken care of,” he said. “We've been retained to deal with state law damage claims, and to hold Ameren accountable, and to make sure that the rate taxpayers here of St. Charles, are not the ones that end up footing the bill here.”

The lawsuit would go after damages that are not covered by federal Superfund claims. There’s no word yet on when the lawsuit will be filed — it's still in the research stage. Nixon says the attorneys won't get paid unless there's a win from Ameren. He also praised Mayor Borgmeyer for taking on the utility.

“I don't think this mayor, this administration has been afraid to push when it comes to the health and welfare of the people of St. Charles,” Nixon said. “Same as your county executive is not afraid to do that. And I just want to say it's refreshing.”

County Executive Steve Ehlmann said he’s pleased to see the Mayor taking this step and being “aggressive” in protecting the taxpayers, “because someone’s going to have to make all this right.”

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