Billing1 (866) 281-5737Customer Service(314) 768-6260

You are here

Published on Wednesday, May 7, 2014

During heavy storms, like the those commonly experienced in the St. Louis area during throughout Spring, too much water entering our wastewater system can “overcharge” the sewer mains, meaning that untreated wastewater can sometimes back up into residential or commercial basements. In April 2013 and again in April 2014, rainstorms blew through the St. Louis area, but the storms had very different impacts on our community. After the 2014 events, basement backups from overcharged mains reduced by 64%, saving $250,000 in basement backup claims, all thanks to repair, maintenance, and system improvement efforts that are part of MSD Project Clear. Using a three-pronged approach, MSD Project Clear’s goals are to improve water quality and to alleviate many wastewater concerns in the St. Louis region. Along with getting excess rain out of our system and building system improvements, MSD Project Clear’s program focuses on repair and maintenance of our current system. Sewer rehabilitation and lining, as well as continued cleaning enabled the significant reduction in basement backups and the cost savings. Since the launch of the program, MSD Project Clear has continued an extensive program of sewer rehabilitation and maintenance throughout the District. In addition, Project Clear installed the first storage tank of the program in the Coldwater Creek watershed (pictured below). Coldwater Creek Tank This tank, and other future scheduled improvements, negates the need to build an additional 5 miles of wastewater sewers - a cost savings of nearly $70 million. The tank does this by storing additional wastewater at peak flow times. Projects like this storage tank have resulted in significant reductions in system overcharges throughout the District. The tale of two April storms showcases this impact: Storm Comparison:

April 2013 (18th and 19th) April 2014 (2nd and 3rd)
Total rainfall across St. Louis: 2 to 5 inches Total rainfall across St. Louis: 2 to 6 inches
1st day total of 2.5 inches 1st day total of 2.5 inches
Moderate rainfall in morning and evening Moderate rainfall in morning and evening
Heavier rainfall in the afternoon Heavier rainfall in the afternoon
Heavier rainfall in North County Heavier rainfall in North County
Overcharged mains: 150 Overcharged mains: 53 (a 64% decrease)

During the April 2014 storm, the installation of the Coldwater Creek Storage Tank stored between 8 and 10 million gallons of untreated wastewater. Positive results from these two comparable storms, one year apart, show that MSD Project Clear, while still at the very beginning of its generation-long effort, is showing promising results. About MSD Project Clear MSD Project Clear is the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District’s initiative to improve water quality and alleviate many wastewater concerns in the St. Louis region. MSD Project Clear will invest billions of dollars over a generation in planning, designing, and building community rainscaping and system improvements, along with an ambitious program of maintenance and repair and the disconnection of some residential downspouts in parts of St. Louis County’s separate sewer area from the wastewater sewer line. This work is part of an agreement between MSD and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The St. Louis region’s success with MSD Project Clear will only be possible through strong partnerships and clear communications with the public.