News Release 494

Broken sewer pipe causes Independence lift station shutdown, results in nearly 60,000-gallon wastewater release to Mill Creek, Missouri River

Volume 38-494 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Larry Archer

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, AUG. 24, 2010 – A broken sewer pipe in Independence Saturday resulted in the shutdown of a lift station and the release of nearly 60,000 gallons of wastewater into a local creek and ultimately the Missouri River, according to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

City officials reported to the department Monday that a wastewater lift station at 2401 N. Liberty St. was taken out of service Saturday to repair a broken water main. With the lift station out of service, an estimated 54,400 gallons of wastewater backed up and overflowed into a tributary of Mill Creek.

The pump station was shut off at 1:30 p.m. and was returned to service at 6:15 p.m., at which time the overflow ended.

An estimated 5,200 gallons of wastewater escaped from the original sewer line break, which happened near 2200 N. Liberty St. That wastewater entered Mill Creek and eventually travelled through the creek before emptying into the Missouri River.

The department’s Kansas City Regional Office, located in Lee’s Summit, dispatched an investigator to the lift station to determine the extent of the environmental damage to the area. 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 in part on the inspector’s findings and 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, 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.

To report an environmental emergency, including after-hour sewage overflows, please contact the DNR spill line at 573-634-2436. To report sewage overflows during regular business hours, contact the nearest regional office. A list of regional offices, their contact information and service areas is available online: /regions/regions.htm.