News Release 024

Electrical failure results in Cooper County wastewater overflow

Volume 38-024 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Larry Archer

JEFFERSON CITY, MO., JAN. 20, 2010 – An electrical failure at a Boonville wastewater lift station resulted in the release of more than 50,000 gallons of untreated wastewater into the Missouri River Tuesday.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources received the notification of the overflow Wednesday morning from city officials in Boonville, who reported that they discovered the overflow shortly before noon on Tuesday at a lift station near 1014 Water Street.

City officials believe a loose electrical connection at a station caused an electrical breaker to trip, shutting off power to the station’s pumps. Wastewater entering the station then backed up and began to overflow, eventually reaching the Missouri River. The city repaired the electrical problem and stopped the overflow on Tuesday.

The department dispatched an investigator from its satellite office in Boonville to the scene to determine what environmental damage may have been caused by the overflow. Because some river communities draw their drinking water from the river, the department has notified drinking water systems down river from Boonville of the incident.

Releases of untreated wastewater from sewer systems, known as sanitary sewer overflows, are a threat to public health and the environment. Releases occur for several reasons, including, as in this case, mechanical malfunction.

In other cases sewer lines can become blocked, causing sewage to backup and overflow the system. Another common cause of overflows is excessive rainfall or snowmelt that infiltrates a sewer system, causing the total amount of wastewater in the system to exceed its capacity.

In any case such overflows can contaminate lakes and streams, causing serious water quality problems.

In order to protect public health and the environment, the department requires communities to take appropriate action to eliminate such releases. To do this, DNR recommends that communities develop a system to track information about overflows, including the date, time, location and size of the overflow, weather data, who notified them, when they notified the department and the measures taken to respond. The community can then use this data to aid in developing a plan to inspect the collection system and plan and finance upgrades to the system to reduce wastewater releases.

To report an environmental emergency, including sewage overflows, please contact the DNR spill line at 573-634-2436. For more information contact the department at 800-361-4827 or 573-751-3443, or visit the department's Web page at