Elevated chloride levels suggest wastewater has infiltrated Columbia well fieldWednesday, June 27, 2012
COLUMBIA — When people in Columbia turn on their taps, every bit of water comes from the sandy, gravel-filled Missouri River bottoms.
In McBaine, about 10 miles south of Columbia, brick well houses sit atop this aquifer that holds about 44 billion gallons of water.
Just two decades ago, the river bottoms were the focus of a controversy about whether to pipe treated city sewage directly to the Missouri River or use natural wetlands to provide a higher level of treatment.
Voters overwhelmingly approved a bond issue to construct clay treatment cells lined with cattails near McBaine — a strategy that attracted state and national attention. The city then agreed to let the Missouri Department of Conservation use the treated wastewater effluent to flood wetlands at its Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area.Twenty-two years later, evidence continues to indicate that treated city wastewater coursing through Eagle Bluffs has infiltrated the underground water that supplies the city's well field for drinking water.READ MORE