Private Project

Eagle Bluffs and the Battle for a Wetland Treatment System

Eagle Bluffs is a marvelous conservation area as demonstrated in this film by outstanding wildlife video. Its remarkable abundance and diversity of wildlife is attributable mainly to its daily receipt of polished wastewater from the wetland treatment system of the city of Columbia, Missouri. This the main water supply for Eagle Bluffs, and managers can readily adjust water levels in various pools to suit migrating and resident species.
The wetland system was, however, not planned by the Missouri Department of Conservation, and city officials had a very different solution to the failure of the sewage treatment system in the late 1980's, namely, like so many other cities, a pipeline directly from an expanded conventional system to the Missouri River. When this plan was announced the city council held public hearings, at which Doug Elley, the major of a small town on the Missouri River just downstream from where the proposed pipeline would discharge treated wastewater, proposed a wetland system that would further polish the wastewater before entering the river. He and his coalition - CRAP (citizens resolved against the pipeline, including a local musician who wrote and performed "The Pipeline Blues") - fought the city manager, public works director, and most of the city council which voted 6-1 in favor of the pipeline for more than a year. In the end - after several setbacks which seemed to doom this proposal - the council (and its mayor, the woman councilperson who cast lone vote against the pipeline), the public works director, and state agencies all signed on. Remarkably, the citizens of Columbia approved (95% in favor) a bond issue to fund the system even though it meant in increase in sewer rates. The former mayor and public works director wistfully recount another one-upon-a-time theme: people with different viewpoints and agendas came together to create a treasure for the community. The film concludes with stunning video of a variety of animals found at Eagle Bluffs. The film also features gorgeous drone footage of Eagle Bluffs and the wetland system.
As a filmaker, I was completely drawn in by the passionate interviews of provided by these key players from nearly 30 years ago - opponents and proponents of the wetland system that has made Eagle Bluffs one of the premier wildlife areas in the USA.

  • H Carl Gerhardt
  • H Carl Gerhardt
  • H Carl Gerhardt
  • Not applicable
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Environmental, Wildlife, Citizen Action, Local politics
  • Runtime:
    30 minutes 29 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 23, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    1,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    HD, UHD, ProRes from 4k raw
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Distribution Information
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: All Rights
Director - H Carl Gerhardt