Sewage discharge ongoing from lift station failure in St. Louis

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JEFFERSON CITY, MO, June 29, 2010 -- The Metropolitan Sewer District in St. Louis' lift station in the Jefferson Barracks area failed on June 24, causing up to 4.6 million gallons of untreated sewage per day to enter into the Mississippi River, the Missouri Department of Resources announced Tuesday.

The overflow, which is ongoing, was reported to the department on Tuesday. It was apparently caused by both pumps in the lift station failing. The wastewater is overflowing through a manhole that is covered by Mississippi River flood waters. Flood waters are also hindering the ability to use emergency pumps. Staff from the department's St. Louis Regional Office were dispatched to the scene to evaluate the situation.

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 and the results of its on-scene investigation.

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.

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 Web site at www.dnr.mo.gov/env/wpp .

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 dnr.mo.gov

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