Pollution Prevention

What does St. Joseph do to prevent pollution in our waterways?

Our Water Protection program prohibits discharging harmful substances into the environment to protect our streams, lakes, and rivers. The program also protects the wastewater treatment plant’s operation from harmful wastes and chemicals that should not go down drains. 

St. Joseph is required by state regulation to detect and eliminate illicit/illegal discharges of pollutants into the environment. Our Clean Water Act permit requires us to have enforceable rules.

The goal of the Illicit Discharge, Detection, and Elimination program is to protect our environment from toxic pollutants that could harm water quality, thereby posing a threat to ecosystems and downstream users as well as public health.

What is Illicit Discharge, Detection, and Elimination or IDDE?

Illicit Discharge, Detection, and Elimination is the illegal discharge or release of pollutants into streams and sewers and how the city finds them and deals with them.

Examples include:

  • Drains not connected to the sanitary sewer system and discharges to a ditch, stream, or river
  • Improper disposal of waste or chemicals onto the ground or into ditches, streams, rivers, waterways
  • Spills and leaks of waste, chemicals, oils, grease, and vehicle fluids that are not cleaned up and drain into sewers or flow into waterways
  • Construction waste and debris such as cement truck wash-out; rocks, concrete, asphalt; building materials; or paint.

What does St. Joseph do about illegal discharges to protect our water quality?

Water Protection staff inspect the drainage ditches and streams throughout the city on a regular basis, looking for illegal discharges. We also respond to complaints or reports of pollution and spills by residents.

What is a reportable spill?

A Reportable Spill is a release of various materials. Discolored water in drainage ditches and creeks, stains or discoloration on pavement (roads, parking lots) or the ground, and strange odors are indicators of an illegal spill or release. Example materials include construction waste, paint and paint thinners, concrete washout, fuels, oils, automotive products, cleaning products, and lawn maintenance products.

What should I do if I see a spill, discharge or something suspicious in the environment?

Report a spill or suspicious discharge using the REPORT A SPILL button above. It’s easy to do and can be done using your phone or computer. 

Telling the water protection division about releases of pollutants helps keep our water clean and healthy.

Can anything be released into waterways or on to the ground?

Clean water can be discharged to the ground, storm drain or onto the ground. Examples of clean water include potable water from garden hoses, swimming pool water after the chemicals have dissipated, rain barrel water, and fire hydrant releases.

What are St. Joseph’s codes regarding illegal discharges?

City ordinance brings us in compliance with state statute 644.051.1, Water Pollution. This Missouri regulation makes it unlawful to cause pollution of any waters of the state. St. Joseph is required to uphold and enforce this regulation.

How to Prevent Spills and Discharges

Businesses and the city of St. Joseph are required to properly manage chemicals and wastes to prevent releases into the environment that can cause pollution.

How to Prevent Spills and Illegal Discharges

Manage Trash: The wind blows a lot in the heartland. If there is trash on the ground, it ends up in our waterways. Wet trash and debris can also leak polluted water from a dumpster into storm drains, ditches, and streams.

  • Keep lids closed on trash dumpsters. Secure the lid on your household trash can.
  • When recycling materials, especially paper, make certain it gets into and stays in the recycle bin.
  • Properly dispose of chemical and liquid waste. Dispose of liquids in a water-tight container.
  • Dispose of household chemicals at a St. Joseph Household Hazardous Waste and Electronics Collection event in the spring and fall.

Properly Store and Use Chemicals: If your business uses chemicals, here are a few tips to keep them properly contained. This saves you money and time through good management of these materials.

  • Store chemicals in a weather protected place such as an indoor storage room or outdoor shed. Use double containment for hazardous chemicals if you are required to do so by state regulation.
  • If you are required to have a Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures Plan (SPCC Plan), keep your plan up-to-date.
  • Keep emergency call numbers current and posted.
  • Train your staff on emergency response procedures.
  • Residents should store lawn and household chemicals in a cool, dry, and secure location.

Prevent Spills and Discharge to the Environment: Releases of pollutants often happen in the form of leaks and spills from  vehicles, lawn equipment, construction work and structure maintenance, and every day use of chemicals.

  • Use chemical and lawn products for their intended purpose. Follow manufacturer directions.
  • Use only the amount needed.
  • Apply lawn chemicals when the weather is best for its use.
  • Transfer chemicals into smaller containers only when necessary. This includes household paint, stains, and varnishes as well as lawn chemicals. Use absorbent materials under the containers while transferring.
  • Properly dispose of unused chemical products and hazardous materials. Take advantage of the St. Joseph Household Hazardous Waste and Electronics Collection event in the spring and fall.
  • Conduct fleet maintenance activities at an appropriate facility or business.

Abandoned Vehicles

Wrecked vehicles are stored at facilities until ready for repair or disposal. Sources of pollutants include battery acid, coolant, windshield cleanser, lubricants, and fuel. The potential sources of pollutants are dependent on the parts of the vehicle damaged. Since the vehicles are stored in the open on a gravel surface, pollutants could be transported via runoff into a storm drain located in the area.