Sanitary Sewer Overflows

A sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) is when wastewater or a mixture of wastewater and rain/groundwater escapes from the sanitary sewer collection system, typically at manholes, before reaching a wastewater treatment facility. Most SSOs happen during periods of heavy rainfall when groundwater or other sources of water seep into the collection system and temporarily exceed the capacity of the pipes. Some SSOs can also occur during dry weather periods, most often due to a blockage in the system, such as roots, "flushable" wipes, accumulated grease vandalism or other improperly flushed debris. 

City crews investigate areas known to be prone to overflowing to identify if and where SSOs are occurring. Some overflows are first noticed by a member of the public, who then calls the city to report the overflow. SSOs can be reported by calling (417) 864-1923 anytime day or night.

When city crews respond to an SSO, they may post warning signs near the source and perimeter of a sewer spill. These signs will remain in place while the SSO is monitored and until the area is cleaned. Clean-up can take several forms, depending on the nature of the overflow. Large capacity vacuum trucks can be deployed to remove pooled wastewater or to intercept flow of wastewater before it spreads. Often a chemical element, such as hydrated lime, is applied to the area. 

Environmental Services uses a variety of methods to help repair and extend the life of Springfield's aging sewer system and reduce sanitary sewer overflows. This includes routine maintenance of pipes and regular removal of accumulations of roots, grease, and other debris, including “flushable” wipes and other trash which are flushed or poured down drains instead of being disposed of properly. City crews also inspect the system with cameras and other technology to identify blockages, breaks, and other defects which need to be repaired. Finally, some sections of piping need to be replaced or upsized through construction projects. The City has committed to investing $300 million over a 15-year period to reduce or eliminate the number and severity of SSOs.  

How can I help?  

Be mindful of what you contribute to the sanitary sewer system.  Dispose of fats, oils, and grease through solid waste trash services . Don’t dispose of wipes through flushing, even if they are labeled as “flushable”, as most of these wipes do not disintegrate and can collect and form blockages in the sewer system. Remember the 3P’s on toileting, only Pee, Poo, and Paper should be flushed!  You should dispose of anything else through your household trash service.       

If you see a manhole discharging fluid, please call the city sewer maintenance department at 417-864-1923 to report the event anytime day or night. 

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SSO Warning Sign

Overflow Notification Signage

If you see this sign posted, stay clear of the immediate area and avoid contact with any nearby water.    

When city crews respond to an SSO, they may post warning signs near the source and perimeter of a sewer spill. These signs will remain in place while the SSO is monitored and until the area is cleaned.


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