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MSD Project Clear Reaches Major Milestone in $7.2 Billion Program to Improve Regional Water Quality

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October 5, 2023


MSD Project Clear (MSDPC) and representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today a major milestone in MSDPC’s 28-year, $7.2 billion program to improve water quality in the St. Louis region. As of fall 2023, MSDPC has eliminated 85% of known overflow points in the wastewater system, where untreated wastewater overflows during major rain events. This achievement is the result of 247 improvement projects completed by MSD Project Clear in our region over the past decade.

“Reaching this milestone means that our waterways which were previously susceptible to untreated wastewater flows during major rain events are now safer and our water environment is healthier. As we continue to experience more frequent, more intense rain events fueled by climate change, the elimination of these overflow points becomes even more urgent,” Brian Hoelscher, Executive Director and CEO of MSD Project Clear. “The elimination of 85% of overflow points in only ten years is not just a number; it symbolizes the dedication of our team to the community and the environment. Moving forward, our goal is to remove the remaining overflow points in our wastewater system by the end of 2033.”

This work is part of MSDPC’s 28-year, $7.2 billion agreement with EPA and the Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE) to address overflows and make other critical wastewater system improvements. As part of this effort, MSDPC is increasing its wastewater collection and treatment capabilities—a complicated, decades-long task in the St. Louis region, with nearly 10,000 miles of public wastewater and stormwater sewers, the nation’s 4th largest.

“Achieving the elimination of 85% of the sewer overflow points is a huge milestone for MSD,” said David Cozad, EPA Region 7 Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division Director. “Through their investment in the sewer system, MSD has eliminated the discharge of hundreds of millions of gallons of untreated wastewater overflows from the streams and rivers of St. Louis, which is a major achievement.”

By the Numbers

  • 85% of known overflow points in the wastewater system
  • 25% reduction in basement wastewater backups
  • More than 650 projects undertaken in total, 247 related to eliminating overflows
  • In the last 5 years, MSDPC has built nearly $2 billion in improvements as part of the agreement with EPA/MCE

Other progress

  • Four major tunnels underway or complete Maline Creek CSO Storage, Deer Creek, Jefferson Barracks, and Lower Meramec, enabling MSDPC to move more water to treatment facilities more quickly without overflowing the system
  • Numerous facility upgrades to wastewater treatment facilities and pump stations
  • Creation of new storage facilities to hold wastewater during major rain events and release it into the system for treatment at a controlled rate
  • Construction of more than 50 miles of new wastewater sewers
  • Rehabilitation of more than 280 miles of sewers lines

Minimizing the effect on customer rates

Given the scale of this program and its efforts to minimize the financial impact on its customers, MSDPC uses a number of methods to minimize increases in its rates.

For example, in each 4-year program cycle, MSDPC asks voters for the authority to issue bonds to fund a large portion of this work. To date, voters have consistently approved this bonding authority which has prevented the need for steep and immediate monthly rate increases. Voters in St. Louis City and County will again be asked to approve bonding authority for the next cycle in April 2024. In addition, MSDPC is now the largest user of state (Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, or SRF) and federal (Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, or WIFIA) funding in Missouri, further reducing the burden on its customers.

MSDPC also offers a 50% rate reduction to qualified low-income, elderly, and disabled customers under its Customer Assistance Program (CAP).

About MSD Project Clear

MSD Project Clear (MSDPC) is two utilities in one–responsible for nearly 10,000 miles of public wastewater and stormwater sewer systems in the St. Louis region. MSDPC is investing billions of dollars over a generation to improve water quality and minimize wastewater and stormwater issues by monitoring regulatory compliance, planning, designing, and building community rainscaping, system improvements, and an ambitious program of maintenance and repair.

Stay informed on MSD Project Clear initiatives on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and via The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District on LinkedIn and NextDoor.

MSD Project Clear Reaches Major Milestone in $7.2 Billion Program to Improve Regional Water Quality