News Release 127

Department of Natural Resources investigating Callaway County sewage release

Volume 38-127 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Larry Archer

JEFFERSON CITY, MO., MARCH 17, 2010 – The Department of Natural Resources is investigating a sewage overflow from a subdivision near Fulton that resulted in the release of untreated sewage into the Middle River.

Investigators from the department were dispatched Tuesday to the wastewater treatment facility serving Highview Subdivision West near Fulton, where a collapsed sewer pipe resulted in the release of an unknown amount of sewage from Sunday until Tuesday.

An unknown amount of sewage flowed into an unnamed tributary of the Middle River and eventually into the river itself. 

The department dispatched an investigator from its Northeast Regional Office in Macon to the site Tuesday to assess the environmental damage and to sample the affected waterway. The department also notified the Callaway County Health Department of the release.

In addition to documenting the environmental impact of the release, the investigator will be inspecting the facility itself to determine whether it is in compliance with the Missouri Clean Water Law.

The department considers discharges of wastewater from sanitary sewer collection systems to be threats to public health and the environment. Such discharges can contaminate lakes and streams, causing serious water quality problems.

Sanitary sewer overflows can be caused by obstructions in sewer lines, such as in this case, mechanical failure, infiltration of rainwater and snow melt into aging systems or undersized systems that cannot compensation for sudden increases in wastewater.

Communities across Missouri produce millions of gallons of wastewater that must be properly transported and treated before being released to waterways. However, some communities are facing challenges in accomplishing this.

In order to protect public health and the environment, the department requires communities to take appropriate action to eliminate their sanitary sewer overflow issues. To do this, communities should develop a system to track information about such incidents, 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 system upgrades.

For more information on sanitary sewer overflows or other water quality issues, contact the Department of Natural Resources’ Water Protection Program at 573-751-1300 or 800-361-4827 or visit the department website at

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