News Release 016

Frozen sewer line results in wastewater release to Putnam County creek

Volume 39-016 (For Immediate Release)
For more information: 573-751-1010

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, JAN. 28, 2011 – A frozen sewer line Wednesday resulted in the release of an estimated 50,000 gallons of wastewater into a Unionville creek, according to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Officials from Unionville notified the department's Northeast Regional Office in Macon this morning that a frozen sewer line at an aerial crossing caused wastewater to back up and overflow from a manhole near Monroe Street and North 10th Street. The wastewater entered a nearby tributary to North Blackbird Creek.

The department has dispatched an investigator from the Northeast Regional Office to determine the extent of environmental damage to the tributary. Regional office staff will use the investigator's findings plus the city's incident report to determine what enforcement action will be taken in the case.

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: