News Release 193

Dairy products clog wastewater line, results in Carthage creek fish kill

Volume 38-193 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Larry Archer

JEFFERSON CITY, MO., APRIL 2, 2010 – A wastewater line clogged by waste from a cheese processing plant in Carthage caused an overflow this morning that resulted in a fish kill in a local creek, according to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

The department’s Southwest Regional Office in Springfield was notified by a citizen reporting a white substance in an unnamed tributary to Center Creek near Schreiber Foods, 1112 Fairview Ave., and indication of a fish kill in the creek.

The department dispatched an environmental investigator from the regional office, who confirmed the discoloration and fish kill. An investigation of the site determined that the substance had entered the stream from a pair of manholes on the Schrieber Foods property that had began to overflow when cheese curds and dairy fat clogged the line to the pump station on site.

The department contacted the Missouri Department of Conservation, which began an investigation into the extent of the fish kill.

The overflow, which is believed to have began Thursday afternoon or evening, was stopped shortly after 1 p.m. The company has begun pumping the remaining wastewater out of the creek and back into the sewer system. The total gallons of wastewater lost and the total number of fish killed were not immediately available.

The department considers discharges of wastewater from sanitary sewer collection systems to be threats to public health and the environment because of their ability to contaminate lakes and streams and cause 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 website at

To report an environmental emergency, including sewage overflows, please contact the department’s 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