LEMAY, Mo. – The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD) Project Clear is getting multi-million-dollar upgrades that will cut emissions by 70 percent from wastewater treatment plants.

About $900 million is going toward a lot of upgrades. The incinerator is just one of the essentials they said they need to upgrade to meet EPA and state requirements.

The equipment runs 24 hours a day, but it’s showing its age.

“These incinerators are over 50 years old and using technology that is over a century old,” said Bess McCoy with MSD Project Clear.

McCoy said wastewater is much more than the water from your toilet.

“Every time you wash your hands, do the dishes, take a shower, but also a lot of the water that comes down those storm drains,” she said. “That’ll carry with it sticks, leaves, trash, all kinds of stuff that we want to keep out of our local waterways to keep them healthy.”

The solids end up either at the Lemay treatment plant or at the Bissell plant to be incinerated.

“Burning it is the most environmentally friendly thing we can do,” McCoy said. “It helps clean those solids but also reduces their volume, so when we truck it to a landfill, it takes way fewer trucks, and those trucks give off way less emissions in the end.”

She said that outdated technology and incinerators are unable to keep up with environmental projects and state regulations. Which is why they’re spending $900 million on upgrades.

“The technology has advanced so much in the last 50 years, and our number one concern is the customers and the environment,” McCoy said. “We owe it to our customers to do what we can to emit clean emissions.”

She said the funding will come partially from increased rates for customers and outside funding from state and federal funds.

The treatment plans will continue to use incinerators and other things at the plant while the new one is being built. The construction is set to start at the end of this year.