A combined 55,500 gallons of wastewater sewage escaped into Eastern Jackson County creeks and rivers on Tuesday.

A combined 55,500 gallons of wastewater sewage escaped into Eastern Jackson County creeks and rivers on Tuesday.

In Independence, approximately 54,000 gallons of sewage escaped from the Sugar Creek pump station, northwest of the BP Amoco site in Sugar Creek. It entered Rock Creek for about an hour, according to a press release issued by Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Independence officials notified MDNR Tuesday morning about the overflow, which was believed to have been caused following an operational error. Sewage escaped into the creek for about an hour Tuesday, from 8 to 9 a.m., according to MDNR.

Dick Champion, director of the Water Pollution Control Department, said the station in question is typically scheduled for maintenance in downtime to clear debris.

Champion said staff miscommunicated by failing to inform MDNR of the scheduled shut-down.

“It was one of those cases where the left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing,” he said. “When that was discovered, we stopped immediately.”

In Blue Springs, the city is trying to determine what caused approximately 1,500 gallons of sewage to escape from a man- hole in the 900 block of N.W. Heatherwood before it entered an unnamed tributary to the Little Blue River.

The release occurred on Tuesday evening from 9 to 11 p.m.

Blue Springs officials could not be reached for comment.

Larry Archer, a spokesperson for MDNR, confirmed that Blue Springs limed the area to disinfect both the ground and path of the overflow before it entered the creek. No debris or solids were lost by the overflow, according to information provided by MDNR.

Both cities are required to submit a report detailing the release within five days.

Archer said discharges of wastewater from sanitary sewer collection systems can be potential threats to public health and the environment because they can contaminate lakes and streams.

“The reasons behind the releases can vary,” Archer said. “But they’re all causes for concern.”

 They can include sanitary sewer mechanical failure, sewer line obstructions, infiltration of rainwater and snow melt into aging systems, or undersized systems that cannot compensate for sudden increases in wastewater.

For more information on sanitary sewer overflows or other water quality issues, contact the Department of Natural Resources’ Water Protection Program at 573-751-1300 or 800-361-4827 or visit the department Web site at www.dnr.mo.gov/env/wpp.