News Release 249

Trash blocks Kansas City sewer line, results in wastewater overflow

Volume 38-249 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Larry Archer

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, APRIL 21, 2010 – A collection of bottles, cans and other trash clogged a sewer line in Kansas City today, resulting in the release of approximately 1,700 gallons of sewage, according the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

City officials notified the department this afternoon that the clogged sewer line caused wastewater to back up and overflow from a manhole in the 300 block of North Belmont Boulevard near St. John Avenue and into a drainage ditch. The overflow began at 9 a.m. and was stopped shortly after 2:30 p.m.

City crews using vacuum trucks were pumping the wastewater back into the sewer system this afternoon, posting the area to warn the public of the overflow and taking water samples for testing.

Clean water regulations require the city to submit a report detailing the release to the department within five days. The department will base future enforcement action on the city’s report.

The department considers discharges of wastewater from sanitary sewer collection systems to be potential threats to public health and the environment. Such discharges have the potential to 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 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