Repairs Complete At Force Main Sewer Break In Chesterfield

April 22, 2014

Crews and contractors with the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD) have finished repairs to the underground force main sewer break in Chesterfield, Missouri.  Pump stations along the force main will ramp up to full operations over the course of the next several hours, returning the system to normal operations.

To effect repairs, the force main sewer had to be temporarily shut down while workers replaced the damaged pipe.  This shutdown caused several overflows of sewage from manholes along the force main.  Affected areas include:

  • The intersection of Crystal Spring Drive and Brighthurst Drive in Chesterfield.
  • Portions of the walk/bike trail that runs along the Monarch Chesterfield levee south of Chesterfield Commons.
  • Portions of Caulks Creek.
  • Portions of Bonhomme Creek.

MSD has placed warning signs in these areas, advising the public of the overflows.  While there is no immediate threat to public health or safety, the public is asked to heed the signs and avoid contact with the affected areas.  If a member of the public should come in contact with these areas, they should immediately and thoroughly wash with soap and water.

MSD will continue to monitor manholes in the area.  If a member of the public should come across what they suspect to be an overflowing manhole, they should contact MSD’s 24-hour Customer Service Center at (314) 768-6260.

Once full operations of the force main sewer resume, cleanup at the break and associated locations will commence.  While an exact timeframe is not yet available, cleanup will take at least several days.

The break in the force main sewer is just west of the intersection of West Drive and North Drive in Chesterfield.  Sewage from the damaged force main sewer has been contained on the property at the site of the break.  The break was reported to MSD by the property owner at approximately 3:00 PM on Monday, April 21, 2014.

A force main sewer is a sewer line through which wastewater is propelled by the force of pump stations located along the path of the sewer.  Pump stations are sometimes necessary to overcome gravity and allow for the transport of wastewater to area treatment plants.  Force mains are made of cast iron and can last anywhere from 25 to 50 years, depending upon the amount of flow the line handles and the corrosive properties of the wastewater. 

The force main sewer in question was built in 1983 and a replacement is currently under design.  Construction of the replacement force main is expected to start within the next 18 months at an estimated cost of $5 million.

The force main sewer break and associated manhole overflows have been reported to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, as required by law.

MSD Crews Responding To Force Main Sewer Break In Chesterfield

April 21, 2014

Crews and contractors with the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD) are cleaning up and making repairs after an underground force main sewer break in Chesterfield, Missouri. 

The location of the break is just west of the intersection of West Drive and North Drive.  The break was reported to MSD by the property owner at approximately 3:00 PM today.  The break is NOT leaking into any waterway and is being contained on the property.  It is unknown at this time how much sewage has leaked from the force main. 

Depending on weather conditions, MSD crews and contractors will work through the night and around the clock until the break is fixed.  Repairs are expected to take 24 to 48 hours.  After the break is repaired, cleanup of the site will be undertaken.  An estimate on the amount of time needed for cleanup will be available after the break is repaired.

While there is no immediate threat to public health or safety, the public is asked to avoid contact with the ground directly affected by the sewer break.   If a member of the public should come in contact with the ground where the leak has occurred, they should immediately and thoroughly wash with soap and water.

A force main sewer is a sewer line through which wastewater is propelled by the force of pump stations located along the path of the sewer.  Pump stations are sometimes necessary to overcome gravity and allow for the transport of wastewater to area treatment plants.  Force mains are made of cast iron and can last anywhere from 25 to 50 years, depending upon the amount of flow the line handles and the corrosive properties of the wastewater. 

The force main sewer in question was built in 1983 and a replacement is currently under design.  Construction of the replacement force main is expected to start within the next 18 months at an estimated cost of $5 million.

The force main sewer break was reported to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, as required by law.

Manhole Failure Causes Sewage Discharge Into MacKenzie Creek

April 2, 2014

Crews with the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD) are responding to a failed above ground manhole structure located on the grounds of Resurrection Cemetery, located at 6901 MacKenzie Road, St. Louis, MO, 63123.  The failed structure is located in the western portion of the cemetery, immediately southeast of Watson Road.  The failure of the structure has caused an undetermined amount of sewage to discharge into MacKenzie Creek, which runs through the cemetery and travels east to the River des Peres.

As of 6:00 p.m. this evening, MSD crews are working to pump around the failed structure, which will stop the flow of sewage into the creek.  Further downstream, a barricade is being erected to stop the flow of water into the River des Peres.  At the barricade, the water will be pumped into MSD’s sewer system.  Repairs will begin tonight and a 7,000 foot section of MacKenzie Creek will be cleaned up over the next few days. 

While there is no immediate threat to public health or safety, the public is asked to avoid contact with MacKenzie Creek in this area for the next 48 to 72 hours.  Signs have been posted in areas where the public may readily come into contact with the affected section of MacKenzie Creek.  If anyone should come into contact with the creek in this area, they should immediately and thoroughly wash with soap and water.

The failed manhole structure was discovered by an MSD crew doing routine maintenance and inspection work at approximately 2:00 p.m. this afternoon.  The cause of the failure is undetermined at this time.
 
The manhole structure failure and discharge of sewage has been reported to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, as required by law.

 

February 2014 Cleaning Schedule

February 3, 2014

MSD started a sanitary sewer cleaning program a few years ago. By proactively cleaning our sewers, instead of waiting for problems to develop, we help reduce problems like water backups and sewage overflows.

On average, our crews clean about 15,000-20,000 linear feet of sanitary sewers per day. The type of debris removed during sanitary sewer cleaning includes tree roots, grease, broken pipes, bricks, mud jack, and plumber’s cable.

We will be performing cleaning work in the following areas during the month of February:

  • Overland
  • Florissant
  • Normandy
  • Pagedale
  • Calverton Park
  • Ferguson
  • Sycamore Hills
  • Vinita Park
  • Unincorporated St. Louis County
  • Bellefontaine
  • Black Jack
  • Moline Acres
  • Creve Coeur
  • Bel-Ridge
  • Town and Country
  • Fenton
  • Kirkwood
  • Ballwin
  • Valley Park
  • Des Peres

If you have questions, please contact our 24-hour customer service line at 314-768-6260.

It Worked & Tips For Homeowners

January 11, 2014

The tripling of crews to clear inlets over the past 48+ hours worked. Yesterday’s rains moved in about midday and we came through everything okay. Only 130 calls for weather related problems – given the conditions, a low number. That low number would not have been possible without the assistance of many: mostly importantly our customers, who took it upon themselves to clear inlets so MSD crews could focus on critical areas; the St. Louis County Municipal League who got the word out to their members; the many County municipal public works departments that committed their people to the effort; the City of St. Louis Street Department, who cleared inlets while their crews were plowing Thursday night into Friday morning, and, when they were done, kept on clearing inlets; and our MSD crews who worked tirelessly, performing back breaking work at thousands of locations throughout the City and County. Thank you everyone!

We will certainly not take undue pride in the low number, as we know Mother Nature had a large role to play in this. Our service area did not receive the intense downpours (ie, a ½ inch or more of rain falling within a short timeframe), that were possible. If that had happened, the situation would certainly have been worse and the calls higher.

To our customers whose calls we were not able to respond to, our sincerest apologies. Many of you called and, due to the location of your inlets and other factors, we could not respond and continued our focus on the 23 critical areas where we know problems exist during heavy rain falls. It was a very tough decision and we are sorry we couldn’t do more for you.

 

ATTENTION HOMEOWNERS

Now that higher temperatures are rolling in, we highly recommend all homeowners undertake a few significant steps this weekend:  

* Downspouts:  Make sure downspouts are clear and directed away from your home. If you can, dig them out of snow piles and allow them clear access to drain. As snow is shoveled or cleared using snow blowers, downspouts can often be dislodged or damaged. Misdirected downspouts can direct water toward a home, causing flooding within the structure or foundation damage.

* Window Wells:  Many homes have window wells outside their basement windows.  If you can, clear snow from window wells. Be sure they are free of ice, leaves, and other debris so they can drain properly and quickly as possible.  If water accumulates, it presses up against the basement window, which in-turn seeps into or even floods the basement.

* Stairwell Drains:  Homes that can be entered through a basement door will have a drain at the bottom of the stairwell. If you can, clear snow from these drains and be sure they are not blocked and are clear of ice, leaves, and other debris.  If water accumulates in the stairwell, it can seep into or even flood the basement.

The overall goal is to make sure that rainwater/snow melt is directed away from your home and its foundation as best as possible.

MSD Blocked Inlet Update

January 10, 2014

MSD has received hundreds of calls this morning requesting snow removal from inlets. With more than 130,000 inlets in St. Louis City and County, MSD cannot possibly clear snow from EVERY inlet in a timely manner. We ask that the public PLEASE remove snow from inlets near their property, if they can, so that we focus on the low-lying areas where we know drainage accumulates during rainstorms and where melting heavy snowfall may worsen the situation.

 If you are physically unable to remove the snow yourself, or you notice ponding or flooding on a street due to a blocked inlet during the rainfall, please contact MSD’s 24-hour customer service number at (314) 768-6260 or email us at customersvc@stlmsd.com. While MSD cannot address ponding or flooding issues unrelated to our sewer system, calls for flooded streets and blocked inlets will be responded to as quickly as possible and on a priority basis.

 Homeowner’s Tips are available on the previous post.

#  #  #

Preparing for Rain/Melting Snow: MSD is Prepared & Tips for Residents

January 9, 2014

MSD IS PREPARED

We are cautiously optimistic that Friday’s rains will not lead to widespread problems. However, Mother Nature will dictate what actually occurs – particularly if large volumes of rain fall over a short period of time. Regardless of what Mother Nature chooses to do, MSD is prepared.

MSD has more than tripled the number of crews to 30 whose sole job is to clear inlets.  We are focusing on low-lying areas where we know drainage accumulates during rainstorms and where the heavy snowfall may worsen the situation.

To be prepared after regular business hours, we are also tripling the number of crews on standby and available to report for duty if needed.

Through a systematic and aggressive maintenance program, our sewer system is well prepared to handle this volume of water. However, the rain and snow melt must be able to make it to inlets. With over 130,000 inlets to maintain and clean, it is impossible for MSD crews to ensure that each and every inlet is clear of snow, ice, or other debris from this past week’s winter storm.

Thus, MSD is asking area residents to visually check inlets in their neighborhoods. If the opening of the inlet is covered by snow, ice, or other debris, please clear it away and ensure that water can flow into the structure. If an inlet is clogged and cannot be easily cleared, please contact MSD’s 24-hour customer service number at (314) 768-6260 or email us at customersvc@stlmsd.com.

Please also contact us if you discover ponding or flooding on a street due to a blocked inlet during the rainfall.

While MSD cannot address ponding or flooding issues unrelated to our sewer system, calls for flooded streets and blocked inlets will be responded to as quickly as possible and on a priority basis.

Remember, ponding can cause cars to hydroplane at high speeds. Slow down. If street flooding is particularly deep, do not attempt to drive through the water. To do so risks damaging your car and risks your life. BE SAFE – DO NOT TAKE CHANCES.

TIPS FOR HOMEOWNERS

Understandably, given the amount of snow still on the ground, doing work around your home to prepare for the rain may be difficult – and, ideally, these and other drainage issues are best addressed during autumn clean-up. However, if possible, a few actions around your home can go a long way to prevent property damage:

* Downspouts:  Make sure downspouts are clear and directed away from your home. If you can, dig them out of snow piles and allow them clear access to drain. As snow is shoveled or cleared using snow blowers, downspouts can often be dislodged or damaged. Misdirected downspouts can direct water toward a home, causing flooding within the structure or foundation damage.

* Window Wells:  Many homes have window wells outside their basement windows.  If you can, clear snow from window wells. Be sure they are free of ice, leaves, and other debris so they can drain properly and quickly as possible.  If water accumulates, it presses up against the basement window, which in-turn seeps into or even floods the basement.

* Stairwell Drains:  Homes that can be entered through a basement door will have a drain at the bottom of the stairwell. If you can, clear snow from these drains and be sure they are not blocked and are clear of ice, leaves, and other debris.  If water accumulates in the stairwell, it can seep into or even flood the basement.

The overall goal is to make sure that rainwater/snow melt is directed away from your home as best as possible.

January 2014 Cleaning Schedule

January 2, 2014

MSD started a sanitary sewer cleaning program a few years ago. By proactively cleaning our sewers, instead of waiting for problems to develop, we help reduce problems like water backups and sewage overflows.

On average, our crews clean about 15,000-20,000 linear feet of sanitary sewers per day. The type of debris removed during sanitary sewer cleaning includes tree roots, grease, broken pipes, bricks, mud jack, and plumber’s cable.

We will be performing cleaning work in the following areas during the month of January:

  • Overland
  • Florissant
  • Normandy
  • Pagedale
  • Calverton Park
  • Ferguson
  • Sycamore Hills
  • Vinita Park
  • Unincorporated St. Louis County
  • Bellefontaine
  • Black Jack
  • Creve Coeur
  • Bel-Ridge
  • Frontenac
  • Wildwood
  • Kirkwood
  • Ballwin
  • Manchester
  • Des Peres

If you have questions, please contact our 24-hour customer service line at 314-768-6260.

December 2013 Cleaning Schedule

December 6, 2013

MSD started a sanitary sewer cleaning program a few years ago. By proactively cleaning our sewers, instead of waiting for problems to develop, we help reduce problems like water backups and sewage overflows.

On average, our crews clean about 15,000-20,000 linear feet of sanitary sewers per day. The type of debris removed during sanitary sewer cleaning includes tree roots, grease, broken pipes, bricks, mud jack, and plumber’s cable.

We will be performing cleaning work in the following areas during the month of December:

  • Overland
  • Florissant
  • Normandy
  • Pagedale
  • Calverton Park
  • Ferguson
  • Sycamore Hills
  • Vinita Park
  • Unincorporated St. Louis County
  • Bellefontaine
  • Black Jack
  • Creve Coeur
  • Bel-Ridge
  • Town And Country
  • Kirkwood
  • Ballwin
  • Manchester
  • Twin Oaks
  • Des Peres

If you have questions, please contact our 24-hour customer service line at 314-768-6260.

Peer-to-Peer Review of St. Louis City Water Division: Details & Kickoff

November 27, 2013

In late October, the City of St. Louis asked MSD to conduct an operational efficiency – or peer-to-peer – review of the City Water Division. MSD accepted this request and has been preparing for the work. On Monday, November 25th, MSD staff met with City Water staff to finalize details of the review and formally begin the process. We estimate the review will take 4 to 6 months to complete. The work will be led by MSD’s Director of Operations, Jonathon Sprague. Jon has been Director of Operations since 2007 and has over 25-years of professional experience, specializing in operations management and strategic planning in the water/wastewater industry. In his current role, Jon is responsible for a budget of over $94 million and staff of 588. From January to March of this year, he served as MSD’s interim Executive Director after the retirement of Jeff Theerman.  More information on Jon’s background and credentials can be found here.

Once completed, MSD will present a report to the City on its findings, including a list of recommendations. What recommendations are implemented, when they are implemented, and how they are implemented, will be at the discretion of the City.

MSD’s review will focus on identifying areas of the City’s water operations where cost savings are possible through the use of new technologies and different business practices. Or, in other words, MSD will work to identify how City Water might achieve maximum efficiency with every dollar spent, while still delivering high quality drinking water and the best possible customer service.

Several questions may come to mind:

  • Why is MSD doing the peer-to-peer review?
  • How can MSD – a sewer utility – conduct a peer-to-peer review of a drinking water utility?
  • What areas of City Water’s operations will MSD review?
  • What is the cost of the review?
  • Will MSD use outside consultants?
  • Is there an additional cost to MSD ratepayers?
  • Will there be a contract or agreement between MSD and the City?
  • How will MSD employees do their jobs while they are conducting the review?

Q: Why is MSD doing the peer-to-peer review?
A: Quite simply, City Water customers are also MSD customers. MSD also has the skills and expertise to perform this work. If we can partner with the City to better serve our shared customers, MSD welcomes the opportunity.

Q: How can MSD – a sewer utility – conduct a peer-to-peer review of a drinking water utility?
A: The underlying challenges a drinking water utility faces are not all that different versus a wastewater utility. In the 21st century, utility performance is and will be about delivering service and maximizing efficiency within an ever increasing regulatory framework; and, at the same time, finding the funds to rebuild, improve, and invest in systems that are decades, if not hundreds, of years old. With that in mind, over the past 10 to 15 years, MSD has undergone numerous changes in its management and structure, all with a focus on efficiency, customer service, and regulatory compliance. Knowing we would one day be subject to a Consent Decree with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish a schedule for future improvements, we systematically reviewed our operating structure and business processes so as to obtain the highest level of efficiency and value from every dollar paid to MSD by our customers.

Q: What areas of City Water’s operations will MSD review?
A: MSD will focus on five key areas:

  • Reduce the overall cost of water treatment
  • Maintain or improve the revenue to expense ratio
  • Continue to meet Partnership for Safe Drinking Water Standards
  • Improve water main repair time and efficiency
  • Reduce non-revenue water production

In addition, we feel can provide valuable feedback to aid the City’s efforts – but not do a complete review – in the following areas:

  • IT functions
  • Lab data collection and transfers
  • Work flows and approval process for routine activities
  • Time sheet/cost accounting
  • Fleet maintenance
  • Customer service
  • Asset management
  • Use of Supervisory Control & Data Acquisition (SCADA) computer systems for gathering and analyzing real time data
  • Improvements to organizational structure, with a focus on operational effectiveness

Additional areas where MSD might be able to offer assistance:

  • Benchmarking data and comparisons
  • High level energy analysis and recommendation
  • Recommendations for consolidation of facilities
  • Major process improvements

MSD will seek to perform as much of the review as possible. And there may be other areas we can offer assistance, but have not yet identified. However, MSD cannot perform the entirety of the review the City originally sought.

Q: What is the cost of the review?
A: There will be no cost to the City. Peer-to-peer reviews of this nature are not uncommon in the utility industry. As an example, MSD recently conducted a peer-to-peer review for the City of Sacramento’s $2+ billion capital program to address sewer issues. Another example – and closer to home – St. Louis County conducted a similar review of MSD’s Engineering Department in 2003. These reviews are traditionally done at no or minimal cost (the cost of travel and incidental expenses).

Additionally, the fact that City Water and MSD serve the same customers in the same geographic area provides MSD with specific knowledge that can be applied in doing the review.

It is important to note MSD will not perform the full scope of the efficiency review the City was originally seeking to perform. There are activities MSD is not qualified to perform or, as a stand-alone government agency, MSD should not perform. (Examples of these activities are examining new business opportunities, expanding the customer base, public-private partnerships, and bond rating initiatives. These activities are best performed by outside consultants and/or are matters of policy the City must examine independent of MSD’s work.) In layman’s terms, MSD will mainly focus on the expense side of the ledger.

Q: Will MSD use outside consultants?
A: No, MSD will not use outside consultants to perform this peer-to-peer review. We have the in-house expertise, skills, and experience to perform the work on our own.

Q: Is there an additional cost to MSD ratepayers?
A: No, there will be no additional cost to MSD ratepayers. The MSD employees involved in the review are employees that are not eligible for overtime or other compensation in addition to their annual salary. They will draw the same salary they normally would for performing their regular duties – no more, no less.

Q: Will there be a contract or intergovernmental agreement between MSD and the City?
A: No, there will not be a contract or intergovernmental agreement. In essence, this is a professional courtesy that MSD is able to perform within the framework of its current workload. No goods, funds, assets, etc. will be exchanged. MSD ratepayers will bear no additional costs for the services being provided to City Water. Thus, an agreement is not necessary.

Q: How will MSD employees do their jobs while they are conducting the review?
A: Quite simply, this will be extra work for the MSD employees involved in the review. However, these employees are not vacating their MSD responsibilities while the review is underway.

Over the 4 to 6 months we estimate the review will take to complete, various MSD employees will be pulled into the work at different times, based on their expertise, experience, and workload. 3 to 4 MSD managers will perform the majority of the review. The work will be spread over several months, thereby allowing all staff to still fulfill their MSD duties.

Taking on extra work is not new for MSD employees. We do it all the time. Furthermore, we also have some of the most dedicated and hardworking professionals in the industry. (We are, after all, the 4th largest sewer utility in the United States and our organization is well respected throughout the industry.) This is what we do for our customers.


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