News Release 281

Sewer line blockage results in Kansas City wastewater release

Volume 38-281 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Renee Bungart

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, MAY 6, 2010 – The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is investigating a wastewater overflow in the Kansas City area. 

City officials discovered the overflow at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday and reported the information to the department. A blocked sewer line in the 4200 block of NW 62nd Terrace resulted in the release of 5,300 to 6,000 gallons of untreated sewage from a manhole. The city stopped the overflow by 10 p.m. that evening.

City officials indicated the receiving stream close to the incident is an unnamed tributary to Houston Lake. Houston Lake is approximately 1.5 to 2 miles downstream from the tributary.  The city applied lime to the area around the manhole and posted a sign in the area.

The department dispatched an investigator from its regional office in Kansas City to collect water samples from the stream and Houston Lake.

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 these cases, 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