News Release 135

Clogged sewer line at Lewis County school results in wastewater overflow into pond

Volume 38-135 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Larry Archer

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, MARCH 19, 2010 – A clogged sewer line at a Lewis County school Thursday resulted in the release of an undetermined amount of untreated wastewater into a ditch and ultimately into a nearby pond, according to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

The department received a call Thursday afternoon shortly before 4 p.m. from officials of the Lewis County Elementary School that a blocked sewer line had resulted in sewage overflowing from a manhole near the lagoon system at 21504 State Highway 6 in Lewistown.

The sewage entered a drainage ditch, eventually mixing with the lagoon’s treated wastewater and flowing into a nearby pond.

The department dispatched an investigator from its Northeast Regional Office in Macon, who observed that work had been conducted to stop the overflow and offered recommended alternatives for cleanup. The investigator also requested the Lewis County School officials post warning signs and speak with the downstream property owner whose pond was affected. 

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 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 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