How Does MilliporeSigma Help to Repair the Mississippi River?

Aug 8, 2018 2:30 PM ET

The Mississippi River is the United States’ most well-known river which serves multiple purposes, including drainage for 40 percent of the United States’ waterflow and creating fertile ground where agriculture, trade and cities have flourished for centuries. It also serves as the drinking water source for 50 cities and 20 million people. But with all this development along its riverbanks, it has been subjected to centuries of pollution — especially during heavy rainfall.

In St. Louis, these heavy rain events can overwhelm the sewer systems and discharge a mix of rainwater and raw sewage into local waterways. In 2012, a $4.7 billion consent decree was issued to the city of St. Louis by the Federal Government to address overflows and other sewer system improvements. A program created by the Clean Water Act resulted in a grant that earmarked $100 million to reduce stormwater runoff entering the St. Louis sewer system, thus reducing raw, untreated sewer system overflows into the river. 

When the Metropolitan St.  Louis Sewer Department went in search of partners, MilliporeSigma answered the call. Through the grant program, the company collaborated with the city and was awarded $980,000 to construct six bioretention basins, also known as raingardens. They consist of a combination of permeable patios and new landscaping designed to capture rainwater on MilliporeSigma’s Dekalb and Laclede sites as well as a half-acre recreation area under Interstate 55. These raingardens, which range in size, can hold between 3,000 and 28,500 gallons of stormwater runoff during a 48-hour period; from 4.6 acres of impermeable surfaces. That’s about two school buses full of water. By capturing this on-site, MilliporeSigma diverts about 1.5 million gallons, or two Olympic size swimming pools, of stormwater annually from the St. Louis sewer system — helping prevent overflows at the city’s wastewater treatment plant while creating beautiful gardens for all to enjoy.

“We were excited to create the raingardens to not only make a positive impact on the environment around us, but also to bring a little bit of nature to our urban facilities,” said Amy Gjoka, MilliporeSigma’s EHS supervisor in St. Louis and project manager for the raingardens. “Our employees are thrilled with the variety of plants and how they stay in bloom all summer long.”

The Mississippi River has seen major improvements over the past few years, but the journey has just begun, and MilliporeSigma is happy to be a part of the stormwater management solution.