Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District

This combined sewer overflow (archway in channel) discharges sewage and rain water into the upper River Des Peres, on Ferguson Ave. just south of Melrose Ave. in University City.
Veronique LaCapra

St. Louis is among the U.S. cities where millions of gallons of sewage has flowed into rivers and streams, according to a new study. The St. Louis region saw as much as 200 million gallons of sewage overflow due to the December floods, according to research released today by Climate Central , a science and news organization. It concludes that St. Louis and other cities that have trouble handling heavy rains need to do more to address the problem.

Map of major watersheds in the St. Louis area.
Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District

The "cloud burst" that drenched a mid-section of St. Louis County with nearly four inches of rain early Monday morning is only part of why local streams and creeks swelled their banks, flooding businesses and several busy streets. Forecasters called it a 25-year rain event, but similar flooding took place just eight months ago and to many county residents it's also reminiscent of flooding in 2008.

Shona Scott's sewer bill has a $359 adjustment for under-billing.
Shona Scott | provided

Some Kirkwood residents are getting a shock when they open their sewer bills this month. The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District is charging a one-time fee to correct a billing error, jacking up bills several hundred dollars in some cases. Shonda Scott’s bill jumped up more than $400.

Staff, Flickr and Bill Greenblatt

Over the past 10 days, St. Louis Public Radio has presented articles on some of the issues before area voters this week. Most of the municipal elections were not reviewed. But we did look at county- and city-wide propositions, as well as tax issues within the city, some school districts and the municipal election in Ferguson.

Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District | provided

Customers of the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District will see their bills go up after the election on Tuesday. By how much, and when, depends on the outcome of two ballot initiatives. MSD is a wastewater and stormwater utility rolled into one. The services are funded through different revenue streams - hence the need for two different proposition.

Part of the $4.7 million sewer system upgrade involves removing illegal sewer bypasses, like the one pictured here.
Ted Heisel | Missouri Coalition for the Environment

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District is spending billions of dollars to keep sewage out of area waterways as part of a court-ordered agreement. But MSD’s plan involves something you might not expect: demolishing vacant buildings. Right now, big storms can overwhelm the city’s combined stormwater and sewer system, causing raw sewage to overflow into rivers and streams. If a surface is paved over — or has a building on it — rain will run off it into the sewers. But take the building away...

An MSD crew worked on a sanitation line in Webster Woods in 2015.
Metropolitan St. Lewis Sewer District

Updated 3/19/15 to correct the bond amount being requested and add a link to the full rate change proposal. The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District has proposed two major changes to the rates consumers pay for services and is holding a series of community meetings to explain them. But even without the new proposals, everyone can expect to see their residential sewer rates continue to rise. According to MSD spokesperson Lance LeComb, rates have gone from an average of about $13 per month for...

St. Louis landowners can apply for MSD grants to build "rainscaping projects" like rain gardens. The Old North Rain Garden (pictured here) was part of MSD's pilot rainscaping program.
Courtesy Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District is offering as many as 50 new grants to encourage local landowners to install rainwater collection systems on their properties. The grants of up to $3,000 would fund projects like rain gardens, rain barrels, green roofs, pervious pavement and other methods that collect rainwater, known as " rainscaping ." Schools, churches, businesses, community groups and other private property owners would be eligible to apply if their projects are located in the...

Republic Services spent $55 million to build this leachate pretreatment plant at the Bridgeton Landfill, in order to bring the wastewater into compliance with its disposal permit from the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District.
Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Bridgeton Landfill owner Republic Services is building a pipeline to carry wastewater from inside the landfill to a sewer line leading to the Bissell Point sewage treatment plant in north St. Louis. The 7.5-mile-long pipeline will run along St. Charles Rock Road just south of Lambert-St. Louis International airport, through St. Ann and several other north St. Louis County communities. That has some area residents worried about the potential for toxic contamination. At a meeting on Monday...

/ Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

It's being billed as another way to spur economic development in the region. St. Louis County and the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District announced Wednesday a new agreement to share software that will track and manage construction permits. Officials from the two entities said having one system for permitting will be more cost-effective for both governmental agencies. It will also speed up the process for those seeking permits. Speed is important when businesses are choosing between cities,...

RiverCity Images

Updated 2/7/14 to correct the timeline of the lawsuit against MSD. The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District is preparing for its first big dig. Starting in a few days, MSD will begin construction of a 3,028 foot-long tunnel under the River Des Peres, just south of Carondelet. The tunnel will hold a pressurized pipe that will carry sewage to the Lemay Wastewater Treatment Plant. MSD spokesperson Lance LeComb said the new pipe will increase the plant’s capacity to take in sewage, and also...

(KOMU via Flickr)

With a large percentage of land paved over, St. Louis City and many other area municipalities have encountered problems with water runoff. In addition to the nuisance of standing water on streets, water runoff can cause health and environmental concerns. The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, the City of Frontenac and the Missouri Botanical Garden are all looking to one solution to the problem - RainScaping. “Any kind of landscaping feature that allows the water to be absorbed more into...

(via Flickr/Matthew Black)

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District has unveiled exactly what it will be doing for its review of the St. Louis city water department. The waste and stormwater agency formally began work on the study on Monday, though preliminary work had been underway for about a month. The work is expected to take about four to six months, and involves MSD staff evaluating, among other things, the water department's organizational structure, how the city can reduce its cost of treating water and the...

Andrew Wamboldt/KOMU News - via Flickr

Updated at 4:30 p.m. with comments from MSD.. The Missouri Supreme Court has ruled that the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District needed voter approval when it changed the way it funded storm water service. In 2007, the agency replaced a flat tax that could be enhanced with additional taxes in certain areas of the city with what it called an "impervious fee" that was based on the amount of water a property could absorb. An MSD customer, William Zweig, sued in 2008, saying the agency had...

(via Google Maps/screenshot)

Updated at 10:20 a.m. on Tuesday MSD spokesman Lance LeComb says several hundred thousand gallons of sewage have spilled from the broken main. The total size of the spill won't be known until repairs are complete. The actual repair work will being around midnight Wednesday, and is expected to take four to six hours. If the work cannot be completed tomorrow morning, crews will have to wait until midnight Thusday before resuming work. Our original story Crews with the Metropolitan St. Louis...

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Updated with additional quotes. The French utility company Veolia has decided not to go forward with a $250,000 contract that would have reviewed the operations of the city of St. Louis water department. Opponents of the company had raised questions about Veolia's corporate behavior and environmental record. Mary Ellen Ponder, the deputy chief of staff to Mayor Francis Slay, announced the company's decision today at a committee hearing on a bill that would have stripped the funding for the...

(Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District)

Updated April 29, 7:30 p.m. With the Mississippi River below 33 feet, MSD says it no longer has to use the pumps, and the flow of untreated wastewater into the river has stopped. The temporary pumps will remain in place. Updated April 29, 4 p.m. MSD officials say that with the Mississippi River dropping, the flow of untreated sewage has slowed to 16 million gallons a day. Crews continue to work on installing two temporary pumps to replace the ones that failed. The cause of the failure is...

(via MSD)

The St. Louis Metropolitan Sewer District has named its new executive director, Brian Hoelscher. Hoelscher takes over the job from Jonathon Sprague, who served as interim executive director since January. Jeff Theerman had the job since 2004 and had announced his retirement effective Jan. 11. Hoelscher's background includes "over 30 years of engineering and management experience" according to a statement from MSD. He joined MSD in 1995 as its manager of construction and has also been the...

(provided by MSD)

A nearly eight-year veteran of the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District will be the agency's interim executive director. MSD announced today that Jonathon Sprague, its current director of operations, will succeed Jeff Theerman on a temporary basis when Theerman retires on Jan. 11, 2013. The agency says Sprague, who has a bachelor's degree from the University of Akron and a an MBA from the college of William and Mary, has more than 20 years of engineering and management experience, and has...

Andrew Wamboldt/KOMU News - via Flickr

The Missouri Supreme Court will decide whether the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District can charge for stormwater service based on how much water a property absorbs. The decision extends a nearly four-year-old legal battle over the agency’s so-called "impervious fee." Two lower courts have ruled that it was not a fee at all, but a tax – and therefore had to be approved by voters under the Hancock Amednment. MSD says the current taxing system barely provides enough money to maintain the...

(photo courtesy of Ron Cox)

The remnants of Hurricane Isaac ended a summer-long dry spell. But for some customers of the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, it meant flooded backyards and basements. For decades, MSD funded its stormwater service with a patchwork of different taxes, which allowed the agency to meet its regulatory requirements. But repairs were a different story. Some parts of the region were flush with cash for capital projects. It took others months or years to accumulate enough funds for even basic repairs. Earlier this year, a state appeals court struck down a potential solution - a fee based on how much water a property could absorb. An appeal to the state Supreme Court is pending. For now, MSD has gone back to its old taxing districts - allowing the lingering problems to get worse.

Rams and CVC enter arbitration The St. Louis Rams are heading to arbitration over what to do about the Edward Jones Dome. The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, which runs the facility and leases it to the Rams, voted Thursday to begin the arbitration process. The two sides remain far apart on plans to upgrade the dome. The 30-year lease signed when the Rams moved to St. Louis from Los Angeles prior to the 1995 season requires the dome to be among the top quarter of NFL stadiums in 15 separate categories. If it isnt, the team can break the lease after the 2014 season. Negotiations began in February with the CVC proposing $124 million in improvements. The Rams countered with a much broader plan that city officials said could cost $700 million.

Today, the board of trustees of the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District is expected to finalize a series sewer rate increases - the result of voter approval of Proposition Y on June 5. MSD spokesperson Lance LeComb says those increases will slowly phase in over the next four years, like this: On July 1, a 9.1 percent increase would go into effect, and that would first be seen on August bills, bills that customers receive in August. LeComb says rates would go up by between 10.8 percent and...

(courtesy of Ted Heisel/Missouri Coalition for the Environment)

Updated at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday to correct election date error and add vote totals. There was sparse voter turnout but overwhelming support for a major bond issue Tuesday that will allow the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, to gradually increase rates to pay for necessary upgrades. Referred to as Proposition Y, the bond issues passage means the average MSD customers bill will go up from around $29 a month to nearly $44 over the next four years. Thats compared to almost $65 a month had...

(courtesy of Ted Heisel/Missouri Coalition for the Environment)

Customers of the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District can expect a bigger bill in July. A vote tomorrow will determine if those increases are gradual or immediate. A legal settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency finalized on April 30 means the district will have to spend nearly $5 billion to keep raw sewage from flowing into local creeks and streams. A $945 million bond issue known as Proposition Y would increase average sewer bill from around $24 a month to nearly $44 a month...

(Véronique LaCapra)

The minority business advocacy group MOKAN says the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District is not doing enough to include local minority and female workers in its sewer upgrade projects. MOKAN executive director Yaphett El-Amin says her group wants MSD to increase the transparency of its hiring practices and invest at least $23.5 million in worker training programs. By creating a qualified pool of minority and female workers well ensure that MSD has diversity on every project, not just some of...

(courtesy of Ted Heisel/Missouri Coalition for the Environment)

Updated at 5:45 with statement from the Attorney General's office. Updated at 2:00 with comments from MSD, Missouri Coalition for the Environment. A federal judge in Missouri has given her approval to a consent decree that requires the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District to make billions of dollars in improvements to settle Clean Water Act violations. In an opinion issued late Friday, Judge Carol E. Jackson called the settlement between MSD, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the...

(Andrew Wamboldt/KOMU News - via Flickr)

Updated at 2:20 with comments from MSD. A ruling from the Missouri Court of Appeals is a mixed bag for the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District. The decision today is the latest in a series of rulings on a storm water user charge the agency implemented in 2007. The charge was based on the impervious area of a property, and replaced a system of a flat tax that could be enhanced by additional taxes in 21 sub-districts. In the ruling, two of the three judges upheld an earlier trial court ruling...

(Maria Altman/St. Louis Public Radio)

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/national/local-national-993709.mp3 The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District has resolved a lawsuit with the Environmental Protection Agency with promises to fix its aging system. But the consent decree , which still must be signed off on by a federal judge, comes with a huge price tag, an estimated $4.7 billion over 23 years. In the second of a two-part series on the overhaul of the sewer district, St. Louis Public Radios Maria Altman explains MSDs rate payers will be picking up the tab.

Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

This summer, the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District settled a four-year lawsuit with the Environmental Protection Agency over violations of the Clean Water Act. Under the terms of the consent decree, MSD will spend the next 23 years upgrading the St. Louis area sewer system. In the first of a two-part series on the sewer overhaul, St. Louis Public Radio’s Véronique LaCapra looks at the problems with our sewers—and what it’s going to take to fix them.

Pages