News Release 200

Department of Natural Resources investigating sewer

Volume 38-200 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Larry Archer

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, APRIL 6, 2010 – The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is investigating the environmental impact of a broken sewer line in St. Clair that has been releasing a small but steady flow of raw sewage into an unnamed tributary of the Meramac River since last Thursday.

City officials reported April 2 that a sewer line in the 1400 block of Neff Road had developed a break that resulted in a release of approximately one gallon of untreated sewage per hour. At the time of the report, officials with the department’s St. Louis Regional Office outlined steps they expected the city to take to contain the release, which was originally discovered on April 1.

When inspectors from the regional office visited the site today, they discovered that none of the steps directed on April 2 had been taken and the release was still ongoing. Department staff remained on the site to begin field testing and sampling to determine the extent of the environmental damage caused by the release.

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 ruptured sewer lines, such as in this case, obstructions in sewer lines, mechanical failure, infiltration of rainwater and snow melt into aging systems or undersized systems that cannot compensate 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’s website at

To report an environmental emergency, including sewage overflows, please contact the DNR spill line at 573-634-2436.