News Release 240

Department of Natural Resources investigates pair of sewer releases in Kansas City

Volume 38-240 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Larry Archer

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, APRIL 21, 2010 – The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is investigating a pair of wastewater releases that occurred in the Kansas City area on Tuesday. 

City officials reported the first release began shortly before 8:30 a.m. in the 2800 block of East 78th Street after debris clogged a sewer line. The blockage was removed and the overflow was stopped by shortly before 10:30 a.m., but not before an estimated 3,125 gallons of wastewater entered an unnamed tributary of the Blue River.

The city took water samples from the creek to determine the environmental effects, treated the route the wastewater took from the manhole to the creek and pumped water from the creek back into the sewer system.

City officials reported a second incident in which debris held open a gate designed to direct wastewater in the city’s combined sewer system to the wastewater treatment plant, allowing an estimated 3,940 gallons of wastewater to flow into an unnamed tributary of the Blue River Tuesday afternoon.

The release, which occurred in the 1300 block of East 85th Street, began at 1:45 p.m. Tuesday and continued until shortly after 5 p.m., when city crews removed the blockage from the gate. The city is sampling the water and pumping the remaining wastewater back into the sewer system.

Clean water regulations require the city to submit a report detailing the release to the department within five days. The department will base future enforcement action on the city’s report.

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

Sanitary sewer overflows can be caused by obstructions in sewer lines, such as in these cases, 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