City of Kennett suing EPA, trying to block utility rate increase

KENNETT, MO (KAIT) - A Region 8 city is suing the federal government.

The City of Kennett is challenging new clean water standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency in March 2013.

"In Kennett we can't be spending money frivolously on fixes that may or may not work," said City Light Gas & Water Superintendent David Wilkins.

Wilkins said the purpose of the lawsuit is not to get money from the EPA, but to challenge the federal agency's newly imposed standards for wastewater treatment that will significantly increase Kennett residents' utility bills.

"We're looking at possibly a $15 million upgrade to try to meet the limits that EPA has set for us."

"It's going to cost them $60 to $70 (more) a month on their bill for something that we're not even sure that it will work, and we don't know if there's any environmental benefit to it at all."

According to the lawsuit, the EPA and Missouri Department of Natural Resources are imposing an "unachievable dissolved oxygen standard (and related nutrient reduction targets) that "will not lead to a corresponding improvement."

"We've spent a good deal of money on engineering firms to come down and review of the treatment process that we have now in place and if it could be modified, and what new treatment processes that might exist to meet the limits that EPA has set, and all of them have said, 'We're not sure that it can even be done.'"

The City is asking for the EPA to establish attainable water quality targets for Kennett's wastewater system before the city moves forward with any upgrades.

Copyright 2014 KAIT. All rights reserved.