Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District to Cut Sewer Overflows

Aug. 5, 2011
Under a federal agreement, the district will pay $4.7 billion to upgrade sewer systems and treatment plants

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD) has agreed to make extensive improvements to its sewer systems and treatment plants at an estimated cost of $4.7 billion over 23 years to eliminate illegal overflows of untreated raw sewage and reduce pollution levels in urban rivers and streams. This injunctive relief is historic in its scope and importance to the people of St. Louis.

The settlement reached between the United States, the Missouri Coalition for the Environment Foundation and MSD requires the district to install a variety of pollution controls, including the construction of three large storage tunnels ranging from approximately 2 to 9 miles in length and to expand capacity at two treatment plants.

MSD has also committed to spending $230 million in a mitigation program to alleviate flooding and another $30 million in an enhanced pipe-lining program, both of which are focused exclusively in environmental justice areas. These programs and the pioneering green infrastructure program of the settlement will further the Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency’s work to advance environmental justice.

In addition to improving its sewer system and treatment plants, MSD will spend $1.6 million on a supplemental environmental project to implement a voluntary sewer connection and septic tank closure program for low-income eligible residential property owners who elect to close their septic tanks and connect to the public sewer. MSD will also pay a civil penalty of $1.2 million to the U.S.

The settlement resolves the claims brought by the U.S. in a lawsuit filed in June 2007, which the Missouri Coalition for the Environment Foundation later intervened under the citizen suit provisions of the federal Clean Water Act. In that lawsuit, among other things, the U.S. alleged that on at least 7,000 occasions between 2001 and 2005, failures in MSD’s sewer system resulted in overflows of raw sewage into residential homes, yards, public parks, streets and playground areas.

Source: EPA

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Images courtesy WCS Environmental Engineering.