Warren County

Lake St. Louis residents object to AFG Wastewater Plant

By Jack Underwood, Staff Writer
Posted 6/8/24

The Missouri DNR held a public hearing last week for the wastewater plant.

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Warren County

Lake St. Louis residents object to AFG Wastewater Plant


The Missouri Department of Natural Resources held a public hearing last week for the wastewater plant that is planned to operate in conjunction with the American Foods Group meat packing plant scheduled to open late this year. 

The wastewater plant would discharge into a tributary of Peruque Creek in Wright City. Downstream, Peruque Creek feeds into Lake St. Louis and there were a number of residents from that area at the meeting to voice their displeasure and concern over the development. 

The DNR had issued a draft operating permit for what would be known as the America’s Heartland Packing Wastewater Treatment Facility. 

The proposed wastewater plant would replace the current Wright City South Wastewater Treatment Facility and would represent a significant increase in effluent discharge. According to DNR officials, the plant currently discharges roughly half a million gallons of water daily, the new plant would discharge 3.5 million. 

“While I respect that all watershed stakeholders have a right to enjoy their property and that more wastewater treatment facility capacity is desired to provide for the existing excess demand that Wright City faces, want is not a necessity,” said Dave Kusmec, who sits on Lake St. Louis Community Association’s Engineering and Facilities Committee. 

1.5 million gallons would come from the work performed at the AFG Plant while the rest would be incorporated from the Wright City South Plant. The South Plant has previously been warned by the DNR for operating well above their approved capacity. 

According to DNR reports, the Wright City South Plant has exceeded its operating capacity 82% of the time over the past five years. Dan Engemann with the Missouri Farm Bureau felt the new plant would provide relief to the beleaguered facility. 

“This facility will not only be able to handle the FTEs processed wastewater, it will have much more added capacity to allow the surrounding area to continue to grow,” said Engemann. “I know there’s some concern from downstream residents, … but as I review AFG’s draft permit, the DNR clearly states the new effluent limits are the same, or more protective than the current discharge limits.”

The concern stems from nitrates and phosphates that may be released into the Peruque Creek Watershed by the plant. According to Lake St. Louis officials, the lake has struggled with water quality issues in the past.

Lake St. Louis residents were particularly concerned that the sediment that the new wastewater plant could develop would accumulate along Peruque Creek, and eventually in Lake St. Louis. 

“When materials come in, in a chocolatey mess, because they haven’t been managed up gradient, as soon as the flow slows down, … That particle has sediment from Warrenton through Wright City through Foristell and on to us,” said Lake St. Louis resident Dan Oberle. 

After the public comments had concluded, DNR officials conducted a Q&A session in an attempt to alleviate some concerns about the plant and assure attendees that they had the capacity to enforce their regulations. 

“We are duty-bound by the Missouri Clean Water Law to protect waters in the state, which means protecting the use of the state. So that’s everything from fishing, swimming, aquatic life protection, as well as what we call the narrative criteria, so free from sedimentation, free from toxicity that’s gonna cause problems to animals and so every permit decision we make has those ground rules that we have to abide by,” said John Hoke, Director of the DNR’s Water Protection Program. 

There was also some frustration from attendees that there were no officials from Wright City or American Foods Group present at the hearing. 

In light of the comments received at the hearing, the DNR elected to extend the public comment period for the wastewater permit by one week, to June 6 at 5 p.m. before they move to make their decision. 

DNR, AFG, Wastewater Plant