News Release 353

Power outage at Ozark wastewater treatment facility results in overflow into local river

Volume 38-353 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Larry Archer
573-751-3807

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, JUNE 17, 2010 – A power outage at the wastewater treatment facility in Ozark Wednesday evening resulted in the release of an estimated 162,000 gallons of partially treated sewage into a local river, according to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

The department’s Southwest Regional Office in Springfield was notified this afternoon of a possible overflow at the treatment plant. A call to plant officials confirmed that a power outage between 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Wednesday resulted in the release of partially treated wastewater into the Finley River.

The department has directed the city to begin a sampling routine of the water at the point where the overflow entered the river, and 125 feet upstream and downstream of that point. The city will continue daily sampling until results return to normal.

The wastewater that was released was partially treated, meaning that much of the solid particles in the water had settled out. The water had not undergone the disinfection that is part of the treatment process at the plant.

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 test results and any subsequent information that is made available.

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, – such as in this case –, 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 www.dnr.mo.gov/env/wpp.

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 website at dnr.mo.gov.

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