News Release 060

Pump failure contributes to release of more than 1 million gallons of partially treated wastewater in St. Joseph

Volume 39-060 (For Immediate Release)
For more information: 573-751-1010

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, MARCH 14, 2011 – A pump failure late Friday night, combined with increased stormwater runoff, contributed to the release of an estimated 1.2 million gallons of partially treated wastewater from the St. Joseph wastewater treatment system, according to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

City officials notified the department early Saturday to report that a pump in a pump station between the city’s primary and secondary treatment facilities malfunctioned on Friday, allowing the partially treated wastewater to overflow to the Missouri River.

Because the wastewater had already received partial treatment, and because of the increase of stormwater that is contributing to the overflow, the release to the Missouri River is not expected to affect drinking water systems down river that draw their raw drinking water from the river.

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.

To report an environmental emergency, including after-hour sewage overflows, please contact the DNR spill line at 573-634-2436. To report sewage overflows during regular business hours, contact the nearest regional office. A list of regional offices, their contact information and service areas is available online: