News Release 462

Department of Natural Resources investigates St. Louis wastewater overflow into Mississippi River       

Volume 38-462 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Larry Archer

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, AUG. 12, 2010 – The infiltration of floodwaters into the sewer system has resulted in an ongoing release of floodwater and wastewater into a St. Louis-area creek and ultimately the Mississippi River, according to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Officials with the Metropolitan Sewer District contacted the department Tuesday afternoon to report an overflow of wastewater from a manhole near the intersection of Kinswood and Koch roads, near the district’s Martigney Lift Station.

The overflow occurred when flood waters infiltrated the sewage collection system at a rate faster than the lift station could handle, causing the combined flood and waste waters to back up before overflowing from the nearest manholes.

The additional pressure on the system ultimately caused a joint in the line to burst, resulting in the direct release of the wastewater to enter directly into Martigney Creek at an estimated rate of 1,500 gallons per minute. From the creek, the wastewater flows into the Mississippi River.

The release has resulted in a fish kill in Martigney Creek. The Missouri Department of Conservation has been called to determine the size and extent of the fish kill.

The department dispatched an investigator from its St. Louis Regional Office Tuesday to document the release. District officials estimate that the release will continue until flood waters recede to the point where the line can be repaired. The department is conferring with its engineers to determine if additional steps can be taken to control the release.

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 infiltration of rainwater and snow melt into aging systems, obstructions in sewer lines, mechanical failure, 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 webpage 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 website at