News Release 257

Blocked sewer line results in 40, 000 gallon wastewater overflow in Greenwood near Lake Winnebago

Volume 38-257 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Larry Archer

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, APRIL 27, 2010 – The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is sampling water from a private lake near a Kansas City area community  following the release of an estimated 40,000 gallons of untreated wastewater late last week.

The department was notified Monday morning by the Greenwood city officials that a combination of asphalt and shop rags clogged a sewer line in Greenwood, causing the sewage in the line to back up and spill out from a manhole in the 900 block of Brent Court.

 The release was reported to the city Friday morning. The clog, which city officials reported as an act of vandalism, was removed and the release stopped approximately 3 a.m. Saturday.

The wastewater flowed into a detention pond that empties into Lake Winnebago, which is a private lake. The department dispatched a staff member from its Kansas City Regional Office in Lee’s Summit to take water samples from the lake.

Clean water regulations require the city to notify the department within 24 hours of a wastewater release and 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 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