News Release 502

Faulty alarm results in Lebanon wastewater overflow

Volume 37-502 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Larry Archer

JEFFERSON CITY, MO., DEC. 28, 2009 – A faulty alarm in a basin resulted in the release of an estimated 18,000 gallons of partially treated wastewater and sludge Thursday morning from municipal wastewater treatment facility in Lebanon, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources reported today.

Employees were cleaning filters in the plant when the high-water-level alarm in the basin that catches the wastewater from that process malfunctioned, allowing the partially treated wastewater and sludge to escape the plant into an unnamed tributary of Dry Auglaize Creek and eventually into the creek itself.

The overflow began at approximately 5 a.m. and continued until shortly after 8 a.m. The city reported the incident shortly before noon to the Department of Natural Resources’ Southwest Regional Office in Springfield, which dispatched an inspector to the site to determine the extent of environmental damage to the creek.

The department considers discharges of untreated or partially treated sewage from sanitary sewer collection systems to be significant threats to public health and the environment. Such discharges can contaminate lakes and streams, causing serious water quality problems.

Sanitary sewer overflows, known also as SSOs, can be caused by mechanical failure, obstructions in sewer lines, infiltration of rainwater and snow melt into aging systems or undersized systems that cannot compensation 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 website at

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