Site logo

Bissell Point Wastewater Treatment Plant

Bissell Point Wastewater Treatment Plant: An Integral Component of St. Louis’ Environmental Health

The Bissell Point Wastewater Treatment Plant is a cornerstone of the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, playing a crucial role in ensuring clean water for the region. Established in the mid-20th century, Bissell Point has evolved to become one of the most advanced wastewater treatment facilities in the area, serving numerous communities and safeguarding the environment against pollution.

Population Served and Scope

Located in the heart of St. Louis, Missouri, the Bissell Point Wastewater Treatment Plant serves a population of approximately 1.4 million residents, covering both St. Louis City and St. Louis County. The plant’s service area encompasses urban, suburban, and industrial zones, highlighting its significant impact on various communities. As urbanization and population growth continue, Bissell Point’s role becomes even more critical in managing the increasing load of wastewater generated by these densely populated regions.

Wastewater Volume and Treatment Capacity

Bissell Point handles an average daily flow of nearly 120 million gallons of wastewater, with a treatment capacity that scales up to 260 million gallons per day during peak wet weather events. This high capacity is essential for managing the substantial volume of wastewater generated by households, businesses, and industries within its service area. The plant employs a robust treatment process that includes primary, secondary, and tertiary treatment stages, ensuring that the discharged effluent meets or exceeds regulatory standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Treatment Process

Primary Treatment: The wastewater first passes through screens that remove large debris such as sticks, plastics, and other coarse materials. It then enters sedimentation tanks where heavier solids settle to the bottom and are removed as sludge, while lighter materials like fats and oils float to the surface and are skimmed off.

Secondary Treatment: The remaining wastewater undergoes biological treatment, where microorganisms break down organic matter. This process typically involves aeration tanks and secondary sedimentation tanks. In the aeration tanks, air is pumped in to supply oxygen, fostering the growth of beneficial bacteria that consume organic impurities.

Tertiary Treatment: To further purify the water, additional processes such as filtration, chemical treatment, and disinfection (often using chlorine or ultraviolet light) are employed. This stage ensures that the effluent is safe for discharge into the Mississippi River, minimizing the impact on aquatic life and downstream water users.

Recent Local News

In recent years, the Bissell Point Wastewater Treatment Plant has been in the spotlight due to several key initiatives and developments. One notable project is the $4.7 billion Project Clear initiative, spearheaded by the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD). This ambitious, multi-decade program aims to improve water quality, reduce sewer overflows, and enhance the overall infrastructure of the region’s wastewater management system.

Key Projects and Upgrades

Project Clear Initiatives: As part of Project Clear, Bissell Point has seen substantial upgrades to its infrastructure. These upgrades include the implementation of cutting-edge technology to enhance treatment efficiency, the construction of additional storage and treatment facilities to manage wet weather flows, and the installation of advanced monitoring systems to ensure optimal operation.

Nutrient Removal Project: One of the most critical projects at Bissell Point is the nutrient removal initiative, designed to significantly reduce the levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in the treated effluent. Excessive nutrients in wastewater can lead to harmful algal blooms and other environmental issues in receiving water bodies. The nutrient removal project uses state-of-the-art biological and chemical processes to mitigate these risks, protecting the health of the Mississippi River ecosystem.

Energy Efficiency and Sustainability: Bissell Point is also committed to energy efficiency and sustainability. Recent upgrades have included the installation of solar panels, energy-efficient aeration systems, and improvements to the plant’s cogeneration system, which converts methane gas produced during the treatment process into electricity. These efforts not only reduce the plant’s environmental footprint but also contribute to cost savings and operational resilience.

Community Engagement

The Bissell Point Wastewater Treatment Plant recognizes the importance of community engagement and public education in promoting environmental stewardship. The plant hosts regular tours for schools, community groups, and stakeholders, providing an opportunity to learn about the wastewater treatment process and the importance of preserving water quality. These tours help demystify the complex operations of the plant and foster a sense of shared responsibility for protecting local water resources.

Public Outreach Programs: In addition to tours, Bissell Point participates in various public outreach programs, including environmental fairs, educational workshops, and community meetings. These events help raise awareness about water conservation, pollution prevention, and the role of wastewater treatment in maintaining public health and environmental sustainability.

Collaboration with Local Organizations: Bissell Point collaborates with local environmental organizations, universities, and government agencies to promote research, innovation, and best practices in wastewater management. By working together, these entities can leverage their collective expertise and resources to address emerging challenges and advance the region’s environmental goals.

Challenges and Future Outlook

While Bissell Point has made significant strides in improving its infrastructure and operations, it faces ongoing challenges related to climate change, aging infrastructure, and evolving regulatory requirements. Increased frequency and intensity of storm events pose a particular challenge, as they can overwhelm the plant’s capacity and lead to combined sewer overflows. Addressing these issues will require continued investment in infrastructure upgrades, innovative solutions, and adaptive management strategies.

Emerging Contaminants: One of the key challenges for Bissell Point and the wastewater treatment sector as a whole is the management of emerging contaminants such as pharmaceuticals, microplastics, and personal care products. These substances can be difficult to remove using conventional treatment methods and may pose risks to aquatic ecosystems and human health. Ongoing research and technological advancements are essential to developing effective treatment solutions for these contaminants.

Regulatory Compliance: Bissell Point must also stay ahead of evolving regulatory requirements to ensure compliance and protect water quality. The plant’s proactive approach to nutrient removal and other treatment enhancements demonstrates its commitment to meeting and exceeding regulatory standards. However, continuous monitoring, investment, and adaptation will be necessary to address future regulatory changes and emerging environmental concerns.


The Bissell Point Wastewater Treatment Plant is a vital asset for the St. Louis region, providing essential services that safeguard public health, protect the environment, and support sustainable growth. Through strategic investments in infrastructure, innovative treatment technologies, and robust community engagement initiatives, Bissell Point is well-positioned to meet the challenges of today and the future. By fostering a culture of environmental stewardship and collaboration, the plant exemplifies the critical role of wastewater treatment facilities in building resilient, healthy, and thriving communities.

As the population served by Bissell Point continues to grow and environmental challenges evolve, the plant’s commitment to excellence, sustainability, and community engagement will remain central to its success. By embracing innovation and fostering partnerships, Bissell Point can continue to lead the way in protecting water quality and promoting a sustainable future for the St. Louis region.