In the aftermath of recent flooding, the city of St. Louis has labored to protect vital infrastructure from the damages that the flooding has created. This includes wastewater treatment plants, highway bridges, embankments and more. St. Louis has collected necessary information on water flow data and level to be entered into the National Water Information System. This essential tool is specifically for monitoring heavy storms that can potentially cause damages, as well as to forecast floods and droughts in real time. Some communities in Missouri continue to battle rising floodwaters, while others are beginning their recovery efforts. As water levels begin to recede on some smaller rivers, residents are encouraged to use caution near flood water as contaminants can pose a health risk. It is estimated that nearly 200 homes have been impacted by the floods, with many more at risk of exposure to the flood-like conditions.
Interesting fact: did you know that residential waste stabilization lagoons are commonly used for onsite sewage treatment? The lagoons are used when the soils are unsuitable for the traditional gravity flow drain field systems. A lagoon consists of an artificial pool for the treatment of sewage, or to accommodate surface water that overflows the storm drains during heavy rain. Interestingly, a septic tank is the most common onsite sewage treatment system for cities throughout Missouri. However, a connection to the city’s sewer system is the most reliable means of sewage disposal.
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Many cities throughout Missouri are facing the challenges of what to do with all of the excess rainwater. Most inflow and infiltration issues occur during severe storms or long periods of precipitation. The city of St. Louis is in the process of implementing a solution that tackles the problem more aggressively. The city has had to overcome the obstacles that sewer overflows have left behind, which also requires a means to better address these wet weather events. Currently, acreage to absorb storm water is in high demand. In order to create the space needed, the city is now removing many vacant and abandoned homes so that a vast amount of empty lots can be maintained and utilized for absorption and appropriate vegetation. Agencies within the city are collaborating on a variety of uses for the vacant land as green infrastructure will be a vital measure in the reduction of sewer overflows, as well as a resource for further ecological development.
The decreased amount of storm water entering the sewer system can have several other advantageous benefits. A few of these include lessening the occurrences of basement backups, a cutback in claims and claim-related costs associated with backups, reduced treatment costs and the increased capacity of the sewer system. An overabundance of water in the system can leave little room for actual wastewater and cause nuisances such as toilets not flushing properly or poor water drainage in a sink or tub. To help ensure you are better protected from the consequences that stormy weather can bring, there are a few proactive measures you can take. Make sure your rain gutters drain out onto the ground instead of just disappearing underground. If your basement has a floor drain, make sure it doesn’t drain into the sewer system. If you use a sump pump to drain storm water out of your basement or crawlspace, make sure the water is pumped onto the ground outside and not into a sewer line.
St. Louis is among the U.S. cities where millions of gallons of sewage has flowed into rivers and streams causing a growing concern for better resources to handle this influx. St. Louis and other cities that have trouble handling heavy rains, are implementing better procedures in order to address the dilemma. Recent research has concluded that within the span of approximately a year, the city has encountered more than 60 sewer overflows. The aging combined sewer systems, which exist in many Northeastern and Midwest cities, are in a state of disrepair, thereby increasing the risk of a major overflow. In some cases, the combination of untreated sewage and storm runoff has overflowed into nearby waterways, by way of outfall pipes, or into streets flowing up through storm drains or manholes.
The city plans to spend up to $4 billion- over the next two decades- to repair the county’s sewer system. The upgrades will include rehabilitating old pipes, as well as, the construction of nine large underground tunnels to expand capacity for the city. The primary focus for this effort is to revitalize and protect the city’s infrastructure, homes and businesses. While the city is implementing several safeguarding procedures and sewage system improvements, heavy rains will continue to be a force to be reckoned with. An increase in global warming is also thought to be part of the reason for the increase of dramatic rain events. The city is now evaluating the steps that can be taken to reduce the impact of climate change. Environmental coordinators have suggested that the St. Louis area needs a more comprehensive approach to climate resiliency, such as the use of rain gardens, and other environmentally friendly measures to divert rainwater from sewer systems. Green infrastructure, green space and planting trees have all become a popular and useful means to capture water.
A side note: recently, Lake St. Louis experienced sewer back-ups and other issues due to a camera which became stuck in a pipeline. During a recent assessment of the city’s sewer lines, the camera was lodged in a 10-inch sewer pipe in one of the two lakes contained within Lake St. Louis. City employees have completed the necessary bypass pumping around the lake. When incidents occur that may provoke a sewer overflow, it’s advisable for homeowners to move valuables from basements to higher ground, as a precautionary measure.
Recent flooding has been an ongoing concern for residents of St. Louis and surrounding areas. Heavy rains have caused many properties to experience damages in the form of landslides, erosion and sewer backups. Additionally, just a few months ago, the rain set a record as the highest level, to date. With extensive rain persisting, if you happen to have a well, it can become a compounding problem. If your well has been flooded, the well and entire water system should be cleaned and disinfected. Floods can contaminate wells with silt, raw sewage, oil and disease organisms. There are a few first steps you’ll want to consider. Start by removing silt and debris from the well and examine the casing, motors and pumps, piping, electrical and other system components for damage. Consult a serviceman if damage is extreme or if you are unable to make repairs. To disinfect a well start by pumping the water until it is clear. Scrub and disinfect the pump room and wash all equipment with at least a 2 percent chlorine solution. Remove the well seal or plug at the top of the casing. Pour a solution of one quart of laundry bleach and 3 gallons of water into the top of the casing. Leave it there at least four hours, preferably overnight.
St. Louis, are you looking for an environmentally sound way to volunteer? How about the Great Rivers Greenway? The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, and Missouri American Water are hosting the 8th annual Confluence Trash Bash, being held on Saturday, March 19, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Area residents are invited to join cleanup efforts, helping to improve the condition of local waterways. To date, volunteers have removed more than 5,400 tires and about 100 tons of trash from area streams and rivers. Prizes will be awarded to volunteers who find the weirdest, biggest, and most expensive trash that morning.
St. Louis has sustained historic flooding from the Meramec River, a relatively small Mississippi tributary that bombarded communities in the far southwestern reaches of the St. Louis suburbs during the week. Two wastewater treatment plants were so damaged by the floodwaters that raw sewage spewed into the river. Hundreds of people were evacuated in the Missouri communities of Pacific, Eureka, Valley Park and Arnold, where many homes took in water. Two-dozen homes in Cape Girardeau also sustained damage from flooding conditions. Catastrophic damage has been a result in several nearby areas. Evacuations were required in the areas most threatened, as conditions were expected to persist, calling for a State of emergency.
In addition, road closures abounded. Traffic was rerouted to allow for sandbagging and pumping, including a 24 mile stretch of Interstate 44. The Mississippi River, which runs beside the Gateway Arch and downtown St. Louis, was also expected to reach nearly 13 feet above flood stage, which would be considered the second-worst flood on record, behind only the devastating 1993 flood. Although a flood wall protects the city, firefighters and emergency road crews worked to pump out water from flooded storm drains behind a 7-foot-high, 1,000-foot-long temporary retaining wall reinforced by gravel and sandbags. Spring River, which was among the waterways to overflow, was also under advisement.
Currently, conditions call for a massive cleanup and the State of emergency has been lifted, interstates are also slowly returning to normal. The St. Louis region is now struggling with the most extensive flooding seen in more than 20 years. Perma-liner Industries is here for you! Call us or go online so we can offer you our best products and services during the aftermath and cleanup period of this devastating flood. 1-866-336-2568/ www.perma-liner.com