News Release 047

Department of Natural Resources investigating wastewater overflow in Bismarck

Volume 39-047 (For Immediate Release)
For more information: 573-751-1010

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, MARCH 3, 2011 – The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is investigating the release of an undetermined amount of wastewater from a pump station in Bismarck into an unnamed tributary that flows into the Flat River Creek in St. Francois County.

City public works officials notified the department Wednesday morning that one of the city’s main sewage lift stations had failed, causing wastewater to back up into a retention basin and eventually overflow from the basin in the unnamed tributary to Flat River.

The department dispatched an investigator to the scene to oversee the cleanup and determine the extent of the environmental damage. 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 mechanical failure, obstructions in sewer lines, 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: