Department of Natural Resources approves Kansas City request to cease pumping at Marion Creek bypass site

For more information: 573-751-1010
Volume 37-397 For immediate release: Oct. 26, 2009

JEFFERSON CITY, MO. -- The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has given Kansas City Water Services Department permission to end pumping efforts that began in late September following a sewer pipeline break that resulted in a large release of untreated waste into an unnamed tributary of the Blue River near Marion Park.

Water sampling of the affected area indicates there is no remaining contamination attributable to the release. Under order of DNR, the city has been pumping water from the creek into city sewers for additional treatment since shortly after the Sept. 25 pipeline break was repaired.

However, the testing that began as an effort to determine the environmental impact of the release revealed that the creek appears to have a higher than expected bacteria levels that are unrelated to the pipeline break and that cannot be traced to any other leak or single source.

The city made efforts to identify a specific source upstream of the initial bypass; however, it was unable to identify any single upstream source that would be contributing to the bacteria levels. The city has agreed to continue to look for possible specific sources.

Pollution, including bacteriological contamination, that can not be attributed to an identifiable source is considered "nonpoint source" pollution. Most nonpoint source pollutants enter waterways through Stormwater runoff that collects pollutants from streets, parking lots, lawns, etc.

The city has also agreed to survey the area that drains into the creek for possible contributors to the nonpoint source pollution and to address that issue with measures laid out in the city's municipal Stormwater permit and overflow control program. Common sources of bacteria include livestock, birds, wildlife, domestic pets, leaky septic systems and combined or sanitary sewer overflows.

In response to the Sept. 25 pipeline break, the department issued a notice of violation to the city on Sept. 28 for violations of Missouri clean water law, including allowing the bypass to continue from Sept. 25 to Sept. 28 Kansas City Water Services has responded to the report and notice of violation by sampling, removing solids from the creek and pumping water from below the discharge. In addition, DNR directed the city to post public access areas notifying the public of the contamination and have asked that the city work with the local health department on determining the need for continued posting of the creek.

The department has noted this and several other deficiencies that the city will need to address, primarily relating to updates to standard operating procedures for managing bypasses and continued investigation of the levels of bacteria in the creek.