News Release 128

Broken sewer main results in overflow into Independence creek

Volume 38-128 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Larry Archer

JEFFERSON CITY, MO., MARCH 17, 2010 – The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is investigating the release of an estimated 107,000 gallons of untreated wastewater into Mill Creek in Independence on Tuesday.

City officials notified the department today that a sewer main burst Tuesday about 11:30 a.m. Sewage from the break flowed over open ground and eventually soaked into it.

While city crews were repairing the break, the lift station that serves the main, which had been shut down during the repairs, began to overflow. Between 3:15 p.m. and 6:15 p.m., the station, located at 406 Dickinson Road, discharged an estimated 107,000 gallons of untreated sewage to the creek.

The department has dispatched field staff from its Kansas City Regional Office in Lee’s Summit to the scene. The city was notified to warn residents of the affected area of the release and to collect water samples for testing. The department will also sample the affected waters.

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