The city of Independence has no existing evidence that its water supply is tainted because of a tannery sludge being deposited at Courtney Ridge Landfill.

The city of Independence has no existing evidence that its water supply is tainted because of a tannery sludge being deposited at Courtney Ridge Landfill.

City staff addressed concerns regarding the effects of tannery sludge on Independence’s water supply following an Independence resident’s comments at Monday night’s City Council meeting.

Bill Wilcox questioned what independent testing is taking place related to the city’s water supply and why sludge is being disposed of near an aquifer.

“I’m just trying to get some answers because nobody’s giving me nothing over the past four months except for ‘We’re looking into it,’” Wilcox said of his requests for information at the local and state levels.

The Water Department provides water to about 250,000 people, including Independence residents and 11 wholesale customers. The water is supplied from wells at the Courtney Bend Water Treatment Plant. The Courtney Ridge Landfill is within Sugar Creek city limits at 2001 N. Missouri 291, and the state of Missouri regulates it.

“The level of direct regulation that the city (of Independence) has over this is extremely limited,” City Manager Robert Heacock said, adding that city officials have spoken with suppliers, landfill management, Sugar Creek officials and the state of Missouri. “We have no independent information ... that suggests that there is a problem. Are we concerned? Absolutely. We are going to do everything within our power ... to ensure safe drinking water. At this point, we are satisfied...”

Karen Kelley, the Water Department’s production manager, said she and Dan Montgomery, the Water Department’s director, toured the tannery and met with tannery officials.

The city has testing data from the tannery and also receives quarterly results from the landfill’s monitoring wells, Kelley said. She said the wells based in the landfill also are tested for specific contaminants.  

“As the city manager said, we are obviously very concerned about our water quality and feel we have done our due diligence here and are satisfied with the information we have,” she said.