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County Commission asked for help with Sewer District problems
County Commission asked for help with Sewer District problems

LaDonna Murray, an environmental health specialist, and Pulaski County Emergency Management Director Lawson Smith warn county commissioners about sewer overflow notification problems,
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (Dec. 2, 2008) — Prior problems with sewage overflows from the Pulaski County Sewer District have sent more than 66,000 gallons of sludge onto other people’s property, according to Pulaski County Emergency Management Director Lawson Smith and LaDonna Murray, an environmental health specialist. Murray works for the Pulaski County Health Department but spoke to the county commission in her capacity as a board member of the Pulaski County Local Emergency Planning Committee.

That incident was cleaned up long ago. However, speaking at a Monday county commission meeting, Smith and Murray asked for help in getting the sewer district to cooperate with their agencies in providing timely notification of problems such as sewage overflows.

“Ladonna and I were out there talking with the sewer district, and we want to maybe meet with the sewer district at their meeting because we want to be notified,” Smith said. “We had four trucks and they were pumping, going out there by the sewer manhole by CB-10 and dumping there. The people from St. Louis showed up and it turned out it was a blown-out motor.”

While emergency management personnel are receiving notifications, they don’t arrive for several days after the incident is over, Smith said.

“We’re just not getting the information in a timely way,” Smith said. “We have mutual aid with the cities and we’ve never had a problem getting help, but we need to know about it first … If I get notice 24 or 48 hours later that says no action was taken, where is (the sewage) going? Down the river?”

Commissioner Bill Farnham said he was upset by the incident as well.

“The alarm was going off and you couldn’t get to it any way,” Farnham said. “We had a guy down the river who had a well and he was really mad.”

Presiding Commissioner Bill Ransdall said he didn’t understand why sewer district personnel aren’t notifying Smith more quickly.

“I don’t know why the sewer board wouldn’t contact you. If you’re going to come and pump 60,000 gallons of sewage, it decreases the violation,” Ransdall said.

Smith said he wanted to notify the county commissioners of the problem so they didn’t get questions they couldn’t answer.

“The citizens down the river are going to be mad at you as commissioners for letting it happen, but you didn’t know anything about it,” Smith said. “Why should I threaten them with DNR when all we have to do is respond to it?”

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