Dept. of Natural Resources, MSD Project Clear to Reduce Excess Nutrients in Waterways

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) and MSD Project Clear (MSDPC) today announced an initiative to decrease levels of excess nutrients into local waterways by two-thirds. This plan is part of a broader, statewide effort to reduce Missouri’s contribution to the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico by 45% by 2035, following today’s approval by the Missouri Clean Water Commission at its meeting in St. Louis.

Under the new plan, MSDPC will reduce phosphorus—a non-toxic mineral that can promote excess growth of algae in certain conditions—through new treatment technology at the Bissell Point, Lemay, and Grand Glaize wastewater treatment facilities. Farms and other wastewater treatment facilities across the state will be making their own contributions to this effort.

“Missouri is one of 12 states working alongside federal, tribal, and university partners to address contributions to the Gulf dead zone using targeted federal funding and broad adoption of best management practices,” said Ashley McCarty, Chair of the Missouri Clean Water Commission. “MSD Project Clear’s efforts in the St. Louis region will be a major part of the statewide Nutrient Reduction Strategy.”

This approach aims to not only create environmental benefits at the lowest possible cost to customers.  MSDPC noted that the environmental benefits of this initiative will be felt downstream in the Gulf, and locally, with significant improvements expected in the water quality of the lower Meramec River.

“We are stewards of our local waterways, and steps like this pave the path toward a more sustainable and vibrant future for our rivers and the Gulf. Our approach not only advances our environmental goals but also saves our customers as much as 90% over the cost of alternatives,” said Jay Hoskins, MSDPC Director of Environmental Compliance. “There are many approaches to this problem, and we appreciate the Commission and the Department of Natural Resources for empowering utilities across the state to select the most effective and cost-efficient methods.”

MDNR has encouraged the state’s diverse approach to this problem. “By bringing together adaptive approaches, we can unlock local creativity, improve local water quality, and reduce statewide excess nutrient pollution that ends up in the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico,” said John Hoke, Director of the Water Protection Program, MDNR. “This plan is a testament to the power of local action in driving global environmental improvement.”

About the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone
The Gulf of Mexico dead zone is a large area where oxygen levels in the water are so low that most marine life cannot survive. It’s one of the largest dead zones in the world, and it occurs seasonally, mostly during the summer.

The Gulf dead zone is caused by nutrient pollution, primarily from human activities in the Mississippi River watershed. The excessive nutrients, including phosphorus, flow into the Gulf from the Mississippi River and stimulate an overgrowth of algae. When these algae die and decompose, the process consumes a significant amount of dissolved oxygen in the water.

As a result, the oxygen levels drop to a point where it can no longer support most marine life, leading to “dead zones.” The affected marine species either die or leave the area in search of more oxygenated waters, in this case, causing significant disruptions to the Gulf’s ecosystems.

About Missouri Department of Natural Resources
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources was created to help Missouri citizens thrive by balancing a healthy environment with a healthy economy. The department provides a range of services to help Missouri citizens, communities and businesses protect and improve the air, land and water resources that we all share. The department also provides opportunities to learn more about Missouri’s natural and cultural history at our state parks and historic sites.  Learn more at

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.

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