Click to HomeClick to Home
Click to Home
Click to Home
Go To Search
The Clean Rivers Healthy Communities Program
The Clean Rivers Healthy Communities Program is...
A multi-decade, multi-billion dollar initiative of the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD) to improve the quality of our region's rivers, streams and creeks.

The program will:

* Significantly reduce the amount of sewage that enters into our waterways from combined sewers during excessive rains and snow melts;

* Involve more citizens in MSD’s pollution and stormwater control efforts; and

* Support environmentally friendly practices that encourage sustainable growth.

What is a sewer overflow and why does untreated sewage spill into our rivers, streams and creeks?

Our sewer system carries human and industrial waste and rainwater runoff away from our homes, businesses and public facilities in order to protect the public’s health and safety. When the weather is dry, sewage flows from where we live, work and play to wastewater treatment plants where it is cleaned before being returned to the environment. However, when the weather is wet and lots of rain or snow falls in short time periods, the system is unable to transport and ultimately, treat all of the combined rainwater and sewage due to its limited capacity. The additional rainwater overwhelms our aging system during these moderate to heavy storm events. To avoid flooding people’s streets and homes, the system discharges excess rainwater and wastewater into local waterways. These discharges are commonly referred to as sewer overflows.

Two types of sewer overflows can occur – combined and separated. The Clean Rivers Healthy Communities program addresses overflows that occur from combined sewers. A combined sewer is a channel or pipe which carries both sanitary sewage and stormwater runoff. When stormwater is high, due to excessive rain, the sanitary sewer provides backup capacity for stormwater runoff. A separate sewer consists of two separate pipes, one for commercial and residential wastewater or sewage; and the other for stormwater runoff.

What benefits will come from reducing sewer overflows?
Reducing sewer overflows into our rivers and streams will yield many benefits for our community. Less sewage in our waterways and better stormwater management1 will provide environmental, public health and economic benefits. Our region can expect the following benefits:

Environmental Benefit

Enhances natural habitats for people, plants and wildlife
Improves aesthetic appeal of creeks and streams
Complements green space through sustainable landscaping and development
Social and Public Health Benefit

Decreases public’s exposure to pathogens and pollutants
Encourages more recreational use of waterways (where possible)
Economic Benefit

Generates business revenues for local contractors and tradesmen working on sewer improvement projects

1MSD's Stormwater Management Plan strives to prevent harmful pollutants (trash, soil solids, yard waste and animal waste) from being carried by stormwater runoff into local water bodies.

How can you help to keep our area waterways clean?
Alone, MSD cannot keep the region’s waterways clean. It needs the support, resources and actions of concerned citizens, businesses and municipalities to improve local water quality. Since our waterways and sewers are shared public resources, there are many steps that you can take to help maintain both.

Everyone can be a part of the solution –

Residents can:

* Disconnect your rain gutters and downspouts from nearby sewer lines;
* Install a rain garden or rain barrel to help capture stormwater runoff;
* Avoid planting trees, shrubs and bushes on your property near the sewer line. As plants’ roots deepen, they can enter, block and damage sewers;
* Reduce your water use, especially during rainy weather;
* Check whether the sewer line that leads to your house has cracks or separated joints and report damage to MSD;
* Reduce fertilizer and pesticide use and lawn watering;
* Properly dispose of household hazardous waste like cleaning products, motor oil and paints;
* Collect and dispose of trash and pet waste properly; and
* Reduce impervious surfaces (blacktop, concrete, etc.) on your property where possible.

Business owners can:

* Recycle or properly dispose of waste;
* Keep lids closed on grease storage containers and trash dumpsters so stormwater will not be contaminated;
* Make sure that chemicals and other materials stored onsite are covered;
* Regularly inspect waste dumpsters for cracks and leaks;
* Keep storm drains clear of debris, dirt or other waste;
* Properly dispose of all wastewater into the sanitary sewer;
* Verify interior floor drains are plumbed to the sanitary sewer;
* Routinely sweep parking lots and pick up litter; and
* Minimize the use of landscaping chemicals and properly dispose of yard waste.

Municipalities can:
Broadly –

* Eliminate illegal and polluting discharges into streams;
* Monitor and control construction site runoff;
* Promote planning for watershed protection;
* Prevent pollution from municipal operations;
* Promote public education about stormwater management practices; and
* Encourage participation at the Clean Rivers Healthy Communities events;
Specifically –

* Implement procedures to ensure all applicable private and public projects involving stormwater management are reviewed and approved by MSD;
* Adopt and implement directed growth planning and zoning strategies to protect water quality; and
* Adopt ordinances under property maintenance or other codes to require property owners to maintain good stormwater management practices.

- [Clean Rivers Healthy Communities Video...]

City of Richmond Heights
1330 S. Big Bend Blvd.
Richmond Heights, Missouri 63117-2202