Columbia looks to tackle water quality and infrastructure concerns

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COLUMBIA -Columbia is working to make sure its water standards are up to code as the city continues to expand.

The city held the first of three scheduled workshops on Wednesday at the Activities and Recreation Center to address water infrastructure needs.

City officials are hoping to hear citizen concerns about waterways in Columbia before creating the Our Columbia Waters Plan. The plan is to create strong, affordable infrastructure for the city.

After the trio of meetings, a plan incorporating citizen's concerns will be presented to city council in hopes of making it a reality.

Connie Kacprowicz, a spokesperson for Columbia Water and Light, said citizen input is crucial for the plan to work.

"It is important that we get feedback because we're making priorities on what type of project," she said. "We want to hear from people if they have problems with basement backups with storm water. We want to know what the community feels is most important."

Columbia's water has received a lot of negative attention recently.

The city received a Clean Water Act violation and agreed to pay a $54,396 civil penalty after the EPA found the city was discharging pollutants into Hinkson Creek in excess of national limits.

Hinkson Creek is on the EPA's list of impaired waters for E. Coli and other known pollutants. As a part of the settlement with the EPA, Columbia must create a wetland, which will help reduce the contaminants in the water by creating another level of treatment.

The EPA said the construction of this wetland should cost no less than $475,000.

KOMU 8 News reported last month a Department of Natural Resources investigation found the West Broadway Swim Club was draining pool water into Harmony Creek. The investigation was launched after a resident near the creek found dead fish. The swim club later apologized and said it is taking steps to correct the problem.

The next two meetings will be held on October 26th and November 14th from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. The second meeting will be discussing the quality of streams and waterways, and the thirdwill be discussing an action plan.

For those who cannot attend, there is a survey on the city's web page.