City of Springfield Environment News Releases

Posted on: October 9, 2014

City identifies source of milky substance in Jordan Creek



The City of Springfield’s Department of Environmental Services has identified the source of the substance that recently impacted Jordan Creek.

After receiving word from the public the morning of Sept. 24 about a milky substance in Jordan Creek, City workers discovered the substance was entering the creek via Fulbright Spring. Crews began pumping water from the spring at approximately 10:40 a.m. Sept. 24 to prevent further impact to the creek. The substance stopped coming out of the spring at around 2 p.m., at which time crews turned their attention to pumping the contaminated water out of the creek.

Crews also introduced clean water into the creek to flush any remaining substance to the pumping locations. Pumps operated continuously until the creek began clearing up on Friday, Sept. 26. The contaminated water from the spring and creek was pumped into the sanitary sewer system to be treated at the City’s Southwest Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Also on the morning of Sept. 24, officials at Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. (DFA), located at 800 W. Tampa, reported to the City an abnormal (but legal) discharge of approximately 5,000 gallons of dairy material consisting of cream, condensed skim milk and sugar, to the City’s sanitary sewer system on the evening of Sept. 23.

DFA had 24 hours to report the discharge, and they fully complied with that requirement. Based on the appearance of the substance seen in Jordan Creek and its timing following the report from DFA, it was believed that the milky substance in the creek came from DFA.

An in-depth inspection and dye testing of the sanitary sewer and stormwater systems, and examination of DFA’s facility sewer drains and lines, were required to support that theory.
”DFA has been a significant and responsible industrial user of the City’s sewer system for more than 20 years. They fully cooperated and partnered with us in this investigation,” said Steve Meyer, Environmental Services director.

Both DFA and the City have been working to update an aging sewer infrastructure and have concluded the deficiencies in the infrastructure resulted in the discharge of DFA’s dairy materials into the creek. This substance poses no harm to the community.

The City has a program in place - the Infiltration and Inflow Program - to maintain and improve the efficiency of the sanitary sewer collection system and to prevent sewer overflow and backups. Infiltration occurs when groundwater enters the sewer system through cracks, holes, faulty connections, or other openings. Inflow occurs when surface water such as storm water enters the sewer system through roof downspout connections, holes in manhole covers, illegal plumbing connections, or other defects.

The sanitary sewer collection system and treatment plants have a maximum flow capacity of wastewater that can be handled. I/I, which is essentially clean water, takes up this capacity and can result in sewer overflows into streets and waterways, sewer backups in homes, and unnecessary costs for treatment of this water. It can even lead to unnecessary expansion of the treatment plants to handle the extra capacity. These costs get passed on to the consumer. For more information about the program, please visit

DFA also has a program in place to ensure proper handling of wastewater discharge and is committed to working with the City to improve its aging infrastructure.

In order to prevent recurrence of the type of discharge that was released on Sept. 23, DFA will voluntarily complete the following system modifications or corrective actions by Oct. 31:

  • Install a flow detector on two process lines that have the potential to divert to the sanitary drain.
  • Install a visual alarm which alerts an operator upon detection of flow within the process lines.
  • Provide training to all homogenizer operators on the system modifications and alarm.
  • The City is informing the Missouri Department of Natural Resources of the results of the City’s investigation, and the MDNR will determine the next steps.

    For more information, please contact Randy Lyman, City of Springfield environmental compliance officer, at 417-864-1925, or Monica Massey, DFA senior vice president of corporate affairs, at 816-801-6486.

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