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City of Springfield Department of Environmental Services

Changing perspectives in Environment and Government

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Errin Kemper wants you to think about the sewer and trash systems for a second. 

“As unpleasant as it sounds, what if you woke up tomorrow morning and your toilets no longer flushed? What if, when you walked out your front door, your yard was covered with trash and there was nowhere for it to go?” 

“People don’t generally consider what they would do if sewer and trash services weren’t there, because they are ALWAYS there. They are vital to public health in our community and without them, even for a matter of hours, Springfield would grind to a halt,” he says. 

Kemper is the director of the City of Springfield’s Department of Environmental Services, a department that serves as the sewer and solid waste utility for the city as well as the region. While these services have always been a function of municipal government, Environmental Services didn’t exist as its own department until 2011.  

“With the relatively recent name change, the public may not immediately recognize us as a major utility in the community that provides two essential services,” says Kemper. “We’re trying to change that.”  

The mission of the department is to protect public health and the environment by providing effective and efficient management of wastewater, stormwater, and solid waste for Springfield.

“Our mission is pretty clear. Every day, our dedicated employees protect the public and the environment, and improve the quality of life in Springfield,” says Kemper. “The people who live and work in this community are our shareholders.”  

With over 1,200 miles of sanitary sewer infrastructure and two award-winning wastewater treatment plants, Springfield is widely recognized as one of the most innovative wastewater utilities in the country. The department is currently implementing a 10-year, $200 million Sanitary Sewer Overflow Control Plan, which represents one of the community’s largest public investments.   

“Virtually all major cities have been required by the EPA to enter into consent judgments to invest money in their sewer systems to reduce sewer overflows during major rain events,” explains Kemper. “But while most major cities have seen sewer rates skyrocket in recent years, Springfield is meeting these environmental mandates while keeping sewer rates competitive. Much of this is due to our Integrated Planning inititative which is directing us to make cost effective investments that protect the environment while improving critical infrastructure.”  

The department also manages the Integrated Solid Waste Management System for the region, which is comprised of the Springfield Sanitary Landfill, three recycling collection sites, a yardwaste recycling center, household chemical collection center, and programs to educate the community. The components of this system work in concert to provide a framework for Springfield homes and businesses to dispose of trash and recyclables.     

In addition, the department is responsible for maintaining compliance with the City’s municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) stormwater permit. The City’s stormwater program is regarded as one of the premier stormwater programs in the state and works to protect and improve water quality through watershed analysis and implementation of stormwater control measures. 

“Environmental Services employees are the key to the department’s success,” adds Kemper. “I’m extremely proud to work alongside some of the smartest, hardest working people in the country. This extraordinary group of professionals have dedicated their careers to improving the quality of life of their citizens.”

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