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Lawsuit against MSD by EPA may be near resolution

Updated 3:30 p.m. June 3 to include comment from MSD.

Updated at 9:55 a.m. June 3 to reflect that the State of Missouri has not signed on to the consent decree.

A lawsuit brought by the Environmental Protection Agency against the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District back in June 2007 could soon be resolved.

The EPA and later the Missouri Coalition for the Environment alleged MSD had violated the Clean Water Act by discharging raw sewage into some rivers and streams through combined sewer overflows.

Parties involved, including the Coalition an the EPA, but not the State of Missouri, have negotiated a consent decree that the member of MSD’s board will vote on next week. It will then go to the Coalition and on to the EPA for signatures.

A federal judge will have to sign off on the settlement.

In MSD’s meeting agenda the district says complying with the decree will likely cost more than $4 billion over 23 years. MSD spokesman Lance LeComb says the company's customers should be prepared to help pay for the improvements mandated by the settlement.

"Certainly we’re going to be spending billions of dollars and that’s not a trivial amount of money. And there are going to be some folks out there who have to make some very hard choices and we realize that and we’re going to work with those folks," LeComb said Friday. "But this is an investment that needs to take place to protect our environment, to protect the health and safety of our community, to maintain our infrastructure so we have a sound economy."

MSD officials are not saying how much of the cost that customers will have to pick up.

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.