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Frequently Asked Questions

The material in this question and answer series is for your information only. It is not legal advice and is not designed to be used in place of legal advice. You should consult your own attorney for legal advice. The St. Joseph Legal Department provides this series to provide a general summary of procedures concerning violations of city ordinances in the City of St. Joseph, Missouri. It is issued to inform generally, not to advise of specific rights. As with any general information, the answers given here may not specifically apply to you.
Are CSOs a new problem?
No. When the Combined Sewer System was designed over thirty years ago, it was less expensive than building two entirely separate systems of pipes and tunnels to carry stormwater and wastewater. Before the sewage treatment plants were built, all sewage and stormwater was discharged into the nearest body of water.

The CSO locations were left in place when the present sewer system was updated to act as safety valves when the pipes get too full to handle the high volume of water during heavy rains. The advantage of a combined sewer system is that both stormwater and wastewater are treated most of the time. The disadvantage is that during heavy rains, untreated stormwater and wastewater may be discharged at CSO locations. In fact, there are far fewer overflows now than in the past due to construction projects to control the overflows.

Show All Answers

1. What is a combined sewer overflow (CSO)?
2. Are CSOs a new problem?
3. What can I do to keep local water safe and clean?
4. How much rain does it take for a CSO discharge to occur?
5. Can CSOs be eliminated?