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Independence, Mo., Agrees to End Sanitary Sewer Overflows; Action Will Result in Major System, Water Quality Improvements

Release Date: 03/31/2009
Contact Information: Chris Whitley, 913-551-7394,

Environmental News


(Kansas City, Kan., March 31, 2009) - The City of Independence, Mo., has reached an agreement with EPA Region 7 and the U.S. Department of Justice to make a series of improvements to its sanitary sewer system aimed at keeping millions of gallons of untreated sewage from flowing into local urban streams, including Mill and Rock creeks, and the Missouri River watershed each year.

Under terms of a consent decree lodged today in Kansas City, Mo., Independence will pay a settlement penalty of $255,000 to the United States. The city will spend an additional $450,000 on a Supplemental Environmental Project involving soil and bank stabilization and the use of native grasses and flowers to replace fescue grass at three of its water detention basins.

"This is a major step forward by Missouri's fourth-largest city, and it will result in some very significant improvements to overall water quality in the Missouri River watershed," said Acting Regional Administrator William Rice.

A primary focus of the consent decree is Independence's Rock Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant and its associated wastewater collection and transmission system. The plant serves about 55,000 residential customers and 3,500 commercial sanitary sewer customers, representing approximately half of the residences and businesses in Independence, and a majority of all customers in the adjacent Town of Sugar Creek, Mo.

The portion of the sanitary sewer system covered by the consent decree encompasses more than 515 miles of sanitary sewer lines and six pumping stations. It does not include parts of the Independence sewage collection system that are handled by the Little Blue Valley Sewer District or the city of Kansas City, Mo.

Based on inspections, responses to information requests and Independence's regular reporting activity to the State of Missouri, EPA has documented numerous violations of the federal Clean Water Act by the city, including 430 sanitary sewer overflows resulting in the discharge of millions of gallons of untreated sewage into the Missouri River since October 2000.

Under the consent decree, Independence must propose and implement a series of corrective actions. The city must perform a comprehensive assessment of its sanitary sewer system, upgrade pump stations, and improve its collection system and wastewater treatment plant, with final costs to be determined. The agreement, which is subject to a 30-day public comment period and subsequent court approval, includes penalty provisions for any failures by Independence to complete its actions in a timely manner.
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Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs) can pose serious water quality problems. Learn more

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