ST. LOUIS – There’s a street in St. Louis that acts like a geyser. Residents say it literally explodes during hard rains. It’s in south city near Arkansas and McKean avenues, where an underground sewer system will sometimes blow stormwater straight up and out through the streets.
“You hear the manholes kind of trembling and you hear the water exploding and it sounds like steam and then chunks of asphalt are flying into the air,” resident Sacha Heath said.
Heath shot video Monday and posted it to Twitter.
“Literally while I was filming a school bus drove through it so that was alarming – and people didn’t really seem to mind. They just kept driving through, but obviously, you don’t want asphalt chunks flying into the bottom of your car,” she said.
She shot a nearly identical video one year ago. It was on another day when it was pouring rain Aug. 11, 2020.
Heath says the aftermath always shows chunks of thrown concrete and scars in the street that look like potholes, but the city doesn’t have to pay for these repairs.
The Metropolitan Sewer District does. We saw an MSD crew there today.
“There’s no damage, structural damage to the main itself. It’s just the water came on through manholes, any seams in the streets it can find,” Sean Hadley said.
Hadley says it’s an old brick sewer system that was designed to work this way a century ago.
“It’s an overcharged main, and the water’s gotta go somewhere,” he said.
Hadley says stormwater will burst through the mortar joints between bricks or out manhole covers.
“That’s what the system is designed to do – for it to pop the manhole covers so that the water can come out and it’s not popping in people’s basements. That’s what you don’t want to happen,” Hadley said.
He says older sewer systems on Cherokee Street in Soulard have similar reactions to heavy downpours.
Heath said she’s glad she captured the video so that people can see what would be difficult to describe.
“I hope it gets fixed. It was nice to be able to put it up on Twitter and have different folks guide me in the proper directions and we’ve had three different crews out here looking at it so apparently, it struck a chord,” she said.