Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District

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.

An MSD crew works on a sanitation line in Webster Woods earlier this month.
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.

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." 

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.

/ 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, said Joe Reagan, president and CEO of the St. Louis Regional Chamber.

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.

(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.

(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.

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.

(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

(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 contract from the budget for this year.

(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 still under investigation.

(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.

(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.

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.

(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 isn't, 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:

(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 issue’s passage means the average MSD customer’s bill will go up from around $29 a month to nearly $44 over the next four years.  That's compared to almost $65 a month had the bond issue not been approved. 

(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.

(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.

(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.

(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.

(Maria Altman/St. Louis Public Radio)

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 Radio’s Maria Altman explains MSD’s 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.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District says it will be developing a new system to monitor back-up power sources at its pumping stations.

(via Google Maps screen capture)

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District is urging its customers to weigh in on a proposed rate increase that could push monthly sewer bills to $85 a month within 10 years.

"Without that input, we're going to be making some very important decisions on our own, and when you look at the cost, it really needs to be a community conversation," said agency spokesman Lance LeComb.

(via Ted Heisel/Missouri Coalition for the Environment)

A consent decree that will settle a four-year-old lawsuit against the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District over violations of the Clean Water Act is a step closer to taking effect.

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