News Release 319

Aeration basin overflow results in release of 75,000 gallons of waste sludge into Kansas City creek

Volume 38-319 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Larry Archer
573-751-3807/573-619-1403 (after hours)

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, MAY 28, 2010 – A waste sludge overflow from an out-of-service aeration basin at a Kansas City wastewater treatment facility resulted in the release of an estimated 75,000 gallons of the sludge into a small stream this morning, according to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

City officials notified the department at noon that the sludge had overflowed from an aeration basin at the city’s treatment plant at 500 NE 132nd St. The basin had been taken out of service for maintenance, but the valve that feeds the basin had not been closed, allowing the sludge to continue to fill the basin and eventually overflow into Rocky Branch Creek.

City crews are sampling the stream upstream of point where the sludge entered the creek, at the point of entry and downstream of the point of entry to determine the extent of environmental contamination.

The department has dispatched an investigator from its Kansas City Regional Office in Lee’s Summit to investigate and determine whether any public use areas have been affected.

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 mechanical failure, obstructions in sewer lines, 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