It happens a couple times a year in Blue Springs – much to the city’s irritation.

It happens a couple times a year in Blue Springs – much to the city’s irritation.

On Saturday afternoon, it happened again.

Someone, most likely children, a city official said, shoved several items into a manhole in the woods behind 2909 N.W. Hunter Drive, causing an overflow of sanitary sewer water into the neighboring creek.

Assistant Director of Public Works Chris Sandie said he believes the culprits were kids.

“It was just one of those things – probably kids in the area, and they see the manhole and think it would be fun to throw things in it,” he said.

Whoever was responsible removed the manhole cover, threw it into the creek and filled the manhole with debris. Later that evening, a couple stumbled upon the area and saw it overflowing. Public works crews responded and found a 21-inch television, plastic birdbath, rocks, sticks, bricks and an 8-foot log in the manhole, items believed to be near-by.

“The items created a major obstruction to the 12-inch sewer main,” Sandie said, adding that an estimated 85 percent of the flow, estimated at 250 to 300 gallons per minute, was diverted into the creek.

Because city crews could not determine when the debris was placed or how long the overflow occurred, Sandie said it’s impossible to calculate the total spillage.

Workers set up a pump system to recapture some of the overflow in the creek and place it back into the sewer system, setting up a pump 350 feet downstream and pumping water out of the stream for three hours at a rate of 400 gallons per minute.

The debris was removed and flow returned to the system by 8:30 p.m., Saturday night. Along with a representative from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the city placed signs in the vicinity advising residents of the spill and that the area may be contaminated.

 The signs are expected be in place for approximately five days.

“This happens a couple times a year,” Sandie said, adding that it’s impossible to know where and when the next incident will occur.

While the city placed chains on the manhole behind Hunter Drive, Sandie said it’s impractical to do that for all 6,300 manholes in the city.

“Doing that would make it difficult for us to respond to general concerns,” he said.

The city also continues to determine what caused approximately 1,500 gallons of sewage to escape from a manhole in the 900 block of N.W. Heatherwood last week.

Leakage entered an unnamed tributary to the Little Blue River.

“We still don’t know the cause of that particular incident,” he said.

Police are investigating the most recent case as an act of vandalism.

Anyone with information or to report vandalism, suspicious activity around manholes, or spills and strong sewage odors should contact 816-228-0195 during regular business hours or 816-228-0150 after-hours.