News Release 473

Mechanical failure results in wastewater release to Lewis County stream

Volume 38-472 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Larry Archer

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, AUG. 18, 2010 – A mechanical malfunction Tuesday resulted in the release of an undetermined amount of wastewater from a Lewis County pump station, according to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Lewistown city officials contacted the department early Tuesday afternoon to report that a control system failure had resulted in the release of an undetermined amount of wastewater from the city’s South Pine Street lift station into an unnamed tributary to Grassy Creek.

The overflow was stopped shortly before 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. City crews used a vacuum truck to remove the wastewater from the creek, flushed the creek with clean water and then vacuumed out the rinse water. The city also posted signs warning people of the release at public access points to the creek.

The department dispatched an investigator from its Northeast Regional Office in Macon to determine the extent of the overflow and any environmental damage it may have caused. The department also notified the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services so that any appropriate public health advisories could be issued.

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, infiltration of rainwater and snow melt into aging systems, obstructions in sewer lines, 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 webpage 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 website at