Monday, May 2, 2011

Separate vs. Combined

On a recent site visit to a storm drainage system, I was met by a property owner. While we were talking, I looked down into the curb inlet and noticed multiple piles of dog waste. About that time, I noticed the property owner had a large dog. I asked the property owner if they knew that storm water going into that curb inlet went directly to the water way across the street and into Bear Creek about ½ mile away. “Really? I had no idea.”

Columbia has SEPARATE storm water and sanitary sewer systems.

All storm water runoff that flows into curb inlets travels through a few pipes, long or short, and discharges to the closest water way. All water ways in Columbia end up in the Missouri River by way of one of our creeks such as Hinkson, Flat Branch, Bear Creek, Grindstone, Bonne Femme. Therefore, the pet waste was going directly to the creek without treatment!

All waste water from the sanitary sewer system goes to the waste water treatment plant (WWTP). Therefore all toilets, sinks and baths from your home and any drains inside a building travel through miles of pipe to go to the WWTP. Processes at the WWTP remove all solid waste and pollutants from the sewage. The WWTP further filters the treated wastewater through an extensive wetland system and then discharges to Perche Creek right by the Missouri River. The removed waste products and pollutants are recycled and disposed properly.

Some towns and cities like Kansas City and a part of downtown St. Louis have a COMBINED storm water and sanitary sewer system. These systems are typically under a consent decree by the EPA to separate their system or eliminate raw sewage from discharging to creeks and rivers during storm water runoff events.




Columbia officials in the early half of the 1900’s saw the benefits of having SEPARATE storm water and sanitary sewer systems. Outhouses used to dump directly to the Flat Branch (photo above), now Columbia has an extensive sanitary sewer system throughout the City that takes our raw sewage to the WWTP.

Since we do have a SEPARATE system, everything that goes into the storm drain goes right to our creeks and waterways. If you need ideas on how to dispose of various items, check out the City website and search “Go Stormwater”.

SO PLEASE KEEP PET WASTE, PAINT, OIL, LEAVES, BRANCHES, GRASS CUTTINGS AND ALL OTHER TRASH OUT OF OUR STORM DRAINS AND WATERWAYS!


Help to keep our local waterways clean and healthy!