The Fenton Wastewater Treatment Plant near St. Louis has stopped operating, sending untreated sewage into nearby rivers and streams.
The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District said that floodwater had disabled the wastewater treatment plant.
Recent heavy rainfall and the rising Meramec River caused the treatment plant inflow to exceed capacity, resulting in water overflowing the plant controls and causing a power outage to the entire facility.
According to Metropolitan Sewer District, four times the normal amount of water was flowing through the Fenton plant before it shut down. The plant is designed to handle 6.75 million gallons per day of flow, but at the time the overflow occurred it was treating nearly 24 million gallons, or 1 million gallons per hour.
Metropolitan Sewer District executive director Brian Hoelscher told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Wednesday: “Based on the current projections and our ability to react, we’re anticipating the entire plant is going to go underwater.”
Hoelscher said that workers had blocked off the mains leading to the plant and installed pumps to divert the untreated sewage.
With water levels still very high, it’s not yet clear when the plant will return to normal operations.
Metropolitan Sewer District spokesman Sean Hadley said that it could be several weeks before the plant is fully operational, but it could start to treat sewage on a limited basis before that.
Drinking water has not been affected by the flooding.