News Release 104

Electrical failure results in 1.2 million gallons of sewage overflows in Fulton

Volume 38-104 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Renee Bungart

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, MARCH 5, 2010 -- An electrical malfunction in a Fulton lift station Thursday resulted in the release of an estimated 1.2 million gallons of untreated sewage, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources announced today.

Department staff today are observing cleanup of Smiths Branch, a tributary to Stinson Creek in Fulton, which was contaminated by sewage when an electrical panel in a sewage lift station malfunctioned, failing to start the station's pumps and resulting in the overflow of 1.2 million gallons of untreated sewage from the station's manhole.

A Fulton city official notified the department of the release shortly before noon today, reporting the release was discovered at the Route O lift station at 9:15 a.m. and estimated it had been occurring about 20 hours prior to the discovery.

The department immediately dispatched field staff from its Northeast Regional Office in Macon to the site to observe cleanup efforts and document water quality in Smiths Branch.

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

Sanitary sewer overflows can be caused by obstructions in sewer lines, such as in this case, mechanical failure, 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's 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