Everyone lives in a watershed – a land area that drains to a common body of water. On the west side of St. Joseph, water drains to the Missouri River. On the east side, water first drains to the One Hundred and Two River, later draining into the Missouri River. Drainage eventually flows into the Gulf of Mexico.
Wastewater and water runoff are transported in different ways depending on the location in our city. We have a separate sewer system on the eastside of St. Joseph. One set of pipes carry wastewater, another set carries stormwater (rain, snowmelt runoff). On the westside, we have Combined Sewers that are designed to carry both stormwater and wastewater in the same pipes. During rainfall events, the pipes may get too full and start to overflow into the Missouri River. The City has overflows with rainfall events as small as ¼” depth. 8 drainage basins covering 30 square miles are served by combined sewers 14 combined sewer overflow discharge locations (all along Missouri River) Sizes range from 18-inch sewer pipes to 20-foot box sewers, some over 100 years old
When it rains, St. Joseph’s sewers are unable to handle all of the stormwater flowing into the system, causing overflows into the Missouri River. Overflows are built into the sewer system to prevent backups and flooding. Combined sewer overflows may pose risks to human health from bacteria and threaten aquatic life and its habitat.
There is no getting around this. We must control overflows.
What have we been doing? Plenty! But, there is a lot to do. A Long Term Control Plan, sent to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency details the City’s plans to address the combined sewer overflow issues and to continue meeting regulatory requirements. A Facilities Plan was the first step in implementing the Long Term Control Plan. We asked residents’ opinions about water protection issues.
Water Protection capital improvements – I’ll talk more about these in a minute. Reaching out to residents with a Public Involvement Plan. You’re a part of those activities right now, and I’ll tell you how you can get involved.
We have important goals for water protection, NOT only because it’s required. Most would agree that protecting water quality is an important goal on its own.
We need to balance development with water quality regulatory requirements.
The City of St. Joseph is investing millions of dollars in water protection projects. Some of the major projects: Roy’s Branch –completed project to reduce stormwater in the system in northwest St. Joseph Whitehead Creek Stormwater Separation – project is currently underway to divert water from Whitehead Creek directly to the Missouri River. Eastside Improvements – project is underway to find the best location for a new sanitary sewer pump station near Candy Creek
The new pump station will allow us to pump treated wastewater into the Missouri River regardless of the river level. The ultra violet disinfection is required additional treatment from regulators. Construction contract awarded. South St. Joseph Industrial Sewer District – Construction underway to replace deteriorated South St. Joseph Industrial Sewer district Pump Station wet well We are working to be as cost efficient as possible. In 2011, St. Joseph voters approved a $105 million sewer revenue bond issue supporting eligibility to apply for subsidized interest rates offered by the State of Missouri.
City codes underscore the importance of managing stormwater. Stormwater Management to: Preserve and protect water quality Reduce property damage Reduce flooding Stormwater Runoff Management Plan is required for all development. May include methods to control downstream flooding such as: Culvert enlargements Detention basins Opportunities for stormwater absorption Sediment and erosion control
This is the really important part. This is where you come in. This is about all of us, and how we can protect our rivers and streams. While the City is investing resources to control overflows and protect water quality, we cannot do it all alone. We need your help to protect our streams and rivers. Some of these are simple steps you can take. We’re going to look at some Green Solutions to help with water quality and others ways you can be part of protecting our local waterways and the Mighty Missouri.
During a heavy rain, each downspout on your home can deliver 12 gallons of rainwater per minute to the sanitary sewer system. A lot of water! St. Joseph is working hard to get stormwater out of the system, and you can help by disconnecting your downspouts if they are connected to the sanitary sewer. Instead, the downspout and water can be redirected to a rain barrel or a rain garden. The City of St. Joseph is offering free workshops on how you can disconnect your downspouts. (Offer schedule.) Disconnect and redirect if you can. Disconnecting downspouts may not be feasible for all homeowners and businesses, but why not check it out.
The average roof sheds tens of thousands of gallons of water each year. Most of the rainwater runoff from properties enters the sewer system, which is not designed to handle all of that runoff. Help capture some of that water with a rain barrel. It’s simply a container – usually a 55 gallon plastic barrel- with a few attachments to make it useful.
Rain barrels offer you a lot of ways to save – at least five ways: Save rainwater to water the plants and yard during hot, dry months. Save money with reduced water bills when rainwater is redirected for other uses around your home or business. Save waterways from pollutants carried in rainwater runoff to streams and rivers. Save rainwater’s runoff power by slowing it down to reduce erosion and flooding. Save rainwater runoff from entering the sewer system, reducing rate payer treatment costs for stormwater.
Ask yourself these questions: Do you have a spot in your yard that tends to collect water? Do your downspouts run off into your yard? If so, you might want to build a rain garden to capture some of that runoff. A rain garden can help our sewer system and provide you a beautiful addition for your property.
Rain gardens are becoming a popular garden choice because they offer property owners a low maintenance garden. Rain gardens use native plants with deep roots able to withstand drought or a deluge. They have the added benefits of providing habitat for birds, butterflies and beneficial insects. In the spring and fall, the City of St. Joseph is offering free workshops on how to plant a rain garden (offer schedule). A list of plants suitable for rain gardens can be found on our website.
A sump pump is typically an appliance in the basement that pumps groundwater out from around your home’s foundation. Sump pumps used to pump groundwater from around your foundation should not be connected to the sanitary sewer system. They should pump groundwater directly out into your yard and away from your foundation, preventing excess water from entering the sewer system and being treated at the Water Protection Facility. A rain garden would be a great place to direct water. If your sump pump is directly wired, rather than using a plug and an outlet, please contact a licensed and bonded plumber to disconnect your sump pump. There are a couple things to note: The type of sump pumps used to drain washing machines and/or sink drains should be connected to the sanitary sewer system. You should also be mindful of your neighbor’s properties and avoid directing your discharge pipe toward their property.
They’re cute, adorable, lovable….they’re our pets. Yes, they’re all these things, but pet waste left behind is NOT so cute. When it rains, stormwater runs across the land and picks up contaminants that can harm water quality in our streams, rivers and lakes. Pet waste is one of the common contaminants. It contains harmful bacteria that can threaten the health of people, especially our children. Those in contact are at risk for getting parasites, roundworm and bacterial infections. Please pick up after your pet on your property, and definitely bring along disposable bags when walking your dog. Collected waste should be sealed in a bag and thrown away, or flushed down the toilet.
Use a commercial car wash to help minimize the effect washing your car has on natural resources and water quality. Most commercial car washes reuse water multiple times before sending it to the Water Protection Facility. Moreover, law requires commercial car washes to drain their wastewater into sewers, where it normally receives some treatment, versus simply running it across the land. What’s the problem with washing your car at home? Soap, along with contaminants such as gasoline and oil, flow into storm drains that eventually end up in our streams and the Missouri River. These pollutants negatively impact water quality and can harm aquatic life. Most soap includes phosphates that can cause excessive algae growth. As algae decays, it uses up oxygen in the water that fish and other aquatic species need.
Green lawns are beautiful, but what is flowing from lawns into our streams can harm life in waterways. Excess common lawn chemicals like fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides or herbicides run from yards when it rains or if you over-water. Before you use lawn chemicals, have your soil tested for nutrient deficiencies to let you know what chemicals you should use and how much. Once you know what your lawn may need, read lawn product labels carefully, and when possible, use the minimum amount of products. Never sweep fertilizer into the street or leave it on other hard surface areas where it will wash away.
Controlling what goes down the drain is an effective way to protect our water quality. PLEASE, don’t put paints, oils, pesticides and other hazardous products down household drains or storm drains. And, don’t flush or rinse pharmaceuticals down the drain. Remove expired or unused prescription drugs from their containers, mix with a substance like coffee grounds or kitty litter. Put in a sealed container, then dispose in the trash. Or, the Police Department offers Community Take Back events, when you can bring in expired or unused prescription drugs. And although something says it’s “flushable,” you and the environment are better off putting it in the trash can.
Everyone can help keep streams clean. Streams are one of the most important resources in the St. Joseph area. Why? Streams provide habitat to a variety of plants and wildlife Vegetation in stream corridors filters stormwater runoff and improves water quality Because streams flow to the Missouri River, our streams have a critical role in maintaining the Missouri River’s health. Litter and trash in streams not only threatens their health, they can also block downstream culverts, increasing the likelihood for flooding. What you can do… Don’t dump trash of any kind, including yard waste in streams. If you own property near a stream, plant native grasses, plants or trees to help protect the banks.
Detention ponds can be located on private or public properties. They have the role of filtering out sediment and pollutants to improve the water quality that ultimately flows to the Missouri River. A regular maintenance program should be in place in order for the detention ponds to perform. If you have a detention pond on your property, and you have questions about your maintenance responsibilities, please contact the Water Protection office.
We want you to be a watershed friend. Watersheds can use your support, and there are several ways to befriend them. Volunteer your neighborhood, organization, church, or school to help stencil storm drains. We are stenciling an important message: “ No dumping, drains to river.”
Learn more about putting Green Solutions in action. The City is sponsoring free “how to” workshops about: Disconnecting downspouts Installing a rain barrel Building a rain garden (Offer schedule)
You can not only be a friend, you can deepen your commitment by ADOPTING a river or stream in our community. Here’s what that means: (Need details from Sean.) Here’s how you sign up:
I hope that you have learned a thing or two about protecting our streams and rivers, and you will consider implementing one or several of the Green Solutions presented here today. Please think about joining one of our public activities such as a workshop, stenciling storm drains or adopting a stream. It’s fun to do any of these as a group, and you will be performing the great service of protecting our streams and rivers.
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What happens to our water <ul><li>2 Types of Sewer Systems </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Separate Sewer System (Eastside) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Combined Sewer System (Westside) </li></ul></ul>
The challenges <ul><li>Sewer overflows to Missouri River </li></ul><ul><li>Health risks and threats to aquatic life </li></ul><ul><li>Raising awareness </li></ul>
St. Joseph must control overflows <ul><li>St. Joseph is required to control the volume of sewer overflows by: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Clean Water Act </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) </li></ul></ul>
What has been done? <ul><li>Submitted a combined sewer overflow Long Term Control Plan to regulatory agencies </li></ul><ul><li>Prepared a Facilities Plan </li></ul><ul><li>Conducted public opinion survey </li></ul>
What has been done? <ul><li>Water Protection capital improvements </li></ul><ul><li>Reaching out to residents </li></ul>
St. Joseph Water Protection goals <ul><li>Protect water quality </li></ul><ul><li>Meet regulatory requirements </li></ul><ul><li>Protect Missouri River as a recreational r esource </li></ul>
St. Joseph Water Protection goals <ul><li>Accommodate development and redevelopment </li></ul><ul><li>Reduce flooding </li></ul><ul><li>Integrate community benefits </li></ul>
Water Protection improvements <ul><li>Roy’s Branch </li></ul><ul><li>Whitehead Creek Stormwater Separation </li></ul><ul><li>Eastside Improvements </li></ul>
Water Protection improvements <ul><li>Pump Station and UV Disinfection </li></ul><ul><li>South St. Joseph Industrial Sewer District </li></ul>
Water Protection through stormwater management <ul><li>Required for development </li></ul><ul><li>Permitting process </li></ul><ul><li>Stormwater Runoff Management Plan </li></ul>
You can protect our water quality <ul><li>City of St. Joseph cannot do it all alone </li></ul><ul><li>Green solutions </li></ul><ul><li>Ongoing public workshops and educational activities </li></ul>
Green Solutions help protect rivers and streams <ul><li>Actions to lessen the impact humans have on the environment </li></ul>
Green Solutions <ul><li>Disconnect downspouts </li></ul>
Green Solutions <ul><li>Install a rain barrel </li></ul>
Green Solutions <ul><li>The power of rain barrels </li></ul><ul><li>Save at least five ways </li></ul>
Green Solutions <ul><li>Plant a rain garden </li></ul>
Green Solutions <ul><li>Plant a rain garden </li></ul>
Green Solutions <ul><li>Disconnect sump pumps from the sanitary sewer </li></ul>
Green Solutions <ul><li>Pick up after your pet </li></ul>
Green Solutions <ul><li>Wash your car in the right place </li></ul>
Green Solutions <ul><li>Keep lawn chemicals out of streams </li></ul><ul><li>Follow application instructions </li></ul>
What else can you do? <ul><li>Keep paints, oils, and pesticides out of storm drains </li></ul><ul><li>Never flush pharmaceuticals, disposable wipes </li></ul>
Green Solutions <ul><li>Put litter in its correct place </li></ul>
Green Solutions <ul><li>Use and maintain stormwater detention ponds </li></ul>
Be a friend of watersheds <ul><li>Volunteer your group, neighborhood, church or school to help stencil storm drains </li></ul>
Be a friend of watersheds <ul><li>Attend a workshop to learn more about green solutions </li></ul>
Be a friend of watersheds <ul><li>Adopt a river or stream </li></ul>
How you can take action <ul><li>Ongoing public activities </li></ul><ul><li>Add your name to our sign-up list </li></ul>
How you can take action <ul><li>Contact: </li></ul><ul><li>Sean DeWeese Environmental Services Coordinator </li></ul><ul><li>Phone: 816-271-5318 </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>stjoemo.info/wpp </li></ul>