Update: In a statement sent to The Record on Friday, Innsbrook CEO Charlie Boyce said the resort will take steps to prevent future sewage contamination. "Working in harmony with nature is part of …
Update: In a statement sent to The Record on Friday, Innsbrook CEO Charlie Boyce said the resort will take steps to prevent future sewage contamination.
"Working in harmony with nature is part of Innsbrook’s company mission and is a value we take very much to heart, so we hate that this incident occurred,” said Boyce. “We’re very grateful for the recent rains, which will help to clean up the creek quickly.“When we receive the test results back from the (Missouri) Department of Natural Resources, we will have a clearer view of what happened and can assess what steps will be taken to ensure this doesn’t happen again. Charrette Creek is one of our most cherished natural assets and we’re dedicated to preserving it for future generations as our community grows."
State officials are investigating what led to sewage flowing into Charrette Creek south of Innsbrook over the weekend, killing hundreds of fish.
Department of Natural Resources environmental specialist Cole Hough said the contaminated area is along Highway F, right next to Innsbrook’s wastewater treatment facility.
“We can’t tell 100 percent what the cause is until we get tests back,” Hough said. “As of right now, the plant is not functioning properly.”
A high volume of sewage intake over the Fourth of July holiday likely overloaded the facility and caused wastewater to bypass the treatment system directly into the creek, Hough said. It’s hard to tell how far the contamination spread, but it doesn’t look like a huge area, he added.
Charrette Creek is an intermittent stream, meaning water doesn’t flow freely except after heavy rain.
Water samples taken July 4 showed low oxygen levels caused the death of the fish. Follow up testing showed oxygen levels were recovering a day later, which Hough said indicates conditions are improving.
E. coli test results and a report from an inspection of the Innsbrook wastewater treatment facility should be available within two weeks, Hough said.
For now, area residents might want to stay out of Charrette Creek.
“I wouldn’t want my kids to swim in it, at least at this point until it’s had a chance to clear up,” Hough advised.
State Department of Conservation agent Bob Lyons estimated up to 500 fish were killed. All of the fish were relatively small, not of catchable size, he said.
“It started on Saturday. It smelled horrible,” said Denise Maloney, who lives along Charrette Creek in the affected area. The water changed color and the fish came to the surface while they began to suffocate, she said.
Charrette Creek. Submitted photo.