Columbia reaches settlement with the EPA

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COLUMBIA - The Environmental Protection Agency and the City of Columbia have reached a settlement for a series of Clean Water Violations at Columbia's landfill.  The city agreed to pay a civil penalty of $54,396 and construct a wetland.

The city had a series of violations from December 2011 through March 2015, according to EPA region 7's Public Affair Specialist, Chris Whitley.

Whitley said the Columbia landfill discharged pollutants such as iron, oil/grease, and suspended solids that exceeded the limit authorized by the state.

"The state gets the authority to issue it [permits] and sets the limit for the permit holder on how much pollutants can be discharged," Whitley said.  

Since the violations, the city says it is has made improvements to its landfill management practices.

"We had a lot of violations for high sediment, and a lot of that was difficulty getting good vegetation established there," said David Sorrell, Assistant Director of Public Utilities for Columbia.

Sorrell said crews established more vegetation at the landfill to prevent erosion of solids into the stormwater basins and cleaned out the basins.

In addition to paying $54,396, which is due at the end of October, the city will also construct a wetland at the area of the landfill. The wetland will help reduce the amount of water runoff in Hinkson Creek.

"It [the wetland] will allow that water to infiltrate the ground instead of running directly into Hinkson Creek, but when it is big enough rainfall that the water does discharge it will be treated by the plants in the wetland," Sorrell said.

The city is required to complete the wetland within three years.  

"We actually have plans that are already prepared for the construction, and we are going to build a sewer on Hinkson Creek, and so we are going to bid those projects together," Sorrell said.

Details about the settlement can be found on the EPA's website.