(KMOV.com) -- It’s been one week since flood waters forced two large pumps at a north St. Louis treatment plant to fail. The pumps have allowed hundreds of millions of gallons of raw sewage to run into the Mississippi River.
Metropolitan Sewer District officials said when the Mississippi River runs high, pipes discharging water get blocked and sewage has to be pumped into the river. Authorities said as of Monday morning 60 million gallons of raw sewage was being pumped into the water.
When two pumps failed April 21, more untreated sewage was coming in than the amount of treated water that could be pumped out. MSD said they had to let the raw sewage go straight into the Mississippi River.
MSD officials said the environmental impact is “negligible because of dilution.” Officials said the river was running past the plant Tuesday at 4.5 million gallons per second or nearly 400 billion gallons daily.
MSD spokesperson Lance Lecomb said the Bissell Plant has to use pumps when the river reaches 2.5 feet over flood stage. The river was at 35 feet Tuesday – 5 feet over flood stage. The forecast says the river will crest a half foot higher Tuesday.
Lecomb said crews were trying to repair the pumps but hadn’t determined the cause of the failure. He said MSD has notified the Missouri Department of Natural Resources of the problem.
MSD has brought in temporary pumps and have cut the amount of sewage going into the river in half, but have said it could take several more days until the flow stops.
MSD said they had hoped to end the flow of raw sewage by the weekend, but it still hasn’t stopped.