ST. LOUIS – Flooding of the Mississippi River on the north side of the St. Louis metro is causing trash to build upon the south side of the city. Bridges over River Des Peres are trapping debris floating downstream.
Fox 2/News 11 reached out to the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District to see if they would clean up the trash. MSD referred Fox 2/News 11 to the City of St. Louis.
Todd Waelterman, Director of Operations for the City of St. Louis, said the city has been focused on keeping the water in the river and preventing it from flooding nearby homes. Last week, city employees proactively built a flood wall on the Alabama Avenue Bridge over River Des Peres.
However, the city’s approach to cleaning up the trash in the river is more passive.
“It’s kind of like a toilet bowl if you would,” said Waelterman. “Once the water starts going down, it gets clear of the bridges, most of that stuff will flush out, just like your toilet does in your house.”
When asked if the city would make efforts to clean up the trash so it does not end up in the Mississippi River and headed towards the Gulf of Mexico, Waelterman said he was “not aware of those kinds of operations.”
“Some of that trash is going to wind up going down the river, we’ll clean up what’s left,” Waelterman said. “We’re going to have enough work going down there and cleaning up the sandbags and picking up the mud and the debris on the street, so we do what we can.”
Frustrated city residents plan to clean up the trash themselves. Lisa Nuelle and Jamie Reese created a Facebook event to recruit neighbors to join them.
They are asking volunteers to meet at the park near Carondelet Boulevard and Morganford Road at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday (May 8).
For their own safety, Waelterman advises residents to stay away from the water.
“There’s a lot of other places where they can clean up,” said Waelterman. “Think about it, if everyone kept their neighborhood clean, we wouldn’t have the cups in the river.”
Nuelle and Reese hope this will become a monthly event where neighbors can get together to clean up their community.