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June 5th Special Election: Metropolitan Sewer District

Four weeks from today voters in St. Louis City & St. Louis County have identical June 5th special election ballots.  They contain the same nine items, each to be approved or rejected.  Eight of the items are changes to MSD’s charter:

The Charter Plan of the Metropolitan St Louis Sewer District is a blueprint for how MSD is operated. The plan was created when MSD was formed in 1954 and was amended and approved by voters in 2000. These amendments provided MSD with the necessary tools to continue providing quality service and to address additional water quality and stormwater needs that exist or may develop in the years ahead. (Source w/link to actual charter)

The first proposition is related to a recent settlement:

A judge approved the settlement of federal lawsuit against the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, paving the way for $4.7 billion of work over the next 23 years to help clean up local rivers and streams and prevent backups into basements and yards.

The Environmental Protection Agency, state and Missouri Coalition for the Environment filed the lawsuit almost five years ago , citing more than 500 million gallons of raw sewage discharged into local rivers and streams between 2000 and 2006 in violation of the federal Clean Water Act. (stltoday.com — recommended reading)

The following are the ballot items:


To comply with federal and state clean water requirements, shall The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD) issue its sewer revenue bonds in the amount of Nine Hundred Forty-Five Million Dollars ($945,000,000) for the purpose of designing, constructing, improving, renovating, repairing, replacing and equipping new and existing MSD sewer and drainage facilities and systems, including sewage treatment and disposal plants, sanitary sewers, and acquisition of easements and real property related thereto, the cost of operation and maintenance of said facilities and systems and the principal of and interest on said revenue bonds to be payable solely from the revenues derived by MSD from the operation of its wastewater sewer system, including all future extensions and improvements thereto?


Shall Article 2 of the Plan (Charter) of The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District be amended to provide that the portion of the boundaries of the District that are located within St. Louis County shall be as described in records kept in the office of the Secretary-Treasurer of the District and no longer required to be contained in the text of the plan?


Shall Articles 3 and 9 of Plan (Charter) of The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District be amended to (a) establish procedural requirements relating to the formation of subdistricts within the District and the design, construction and funding of improvements in such subdistricts, and (b) establish the method for levying special benefit assessments, all subject to a vote of the property owners in the affected subdistricts?


Shall Article 3 of the Plan (Charter) of The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District relating to powers of the District be amended to (a) permit the District to establish environmentally sustainable standards and practices, and (b) clarify the existing authority of the District to enter into contracts pertaining to stormwater facilities?


Shall Articles 5, 7 and 10 of the Plan (Charter) of The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District be amended to provide that notice of the expiration of the term of office of a Director, notice of tax levy hearings, notice of proposed rate changes, and notice of elections under the Plan (Charter) shall be given by mail, publication or electronic media, or such other form of communication as may be permitted by Missouri law?


Shall Articles 7 and 9 of the Plan (Charter) of The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District relating to budget and finance be amended to (a) require the budget of the District to include a list of capital projects, (b) require a public hearing at least 21 days prior to adoption of the budget, and (c) provide that proceedings to make certain improvements shall be initiated by approval of a list of capital projects and a general appropriation ordinance rather than by resolution?


Shall Article 9 of the Plan (Charter) of The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District be amended to permit the District to use design-build and other alternative delivery methods to make improvements, as permitted by Missouri law?


Shall Article 11 of the Plan (Charter) of The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District be amended to provide that a District Plan Amendment Commission shall be appointed on or before July 1, 2019 and every ten years thereafter?


Shall the Plan (Charter) of The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District be amended to (a) make various typographical, grammatical and stylistic revisions to the text thereof, (b) correct outdated statutory citations and references, (c) change gender specific language to gender neutral language, and (d) eliminate the requirement that records of the Board of Trustees maintained by the Secretary-Treasurer be kept in bound or book form?

I’m just now starting the process to research these before election day so I’ll be curious to hear your thoughts.

– Steve Patterson


The Short Life Of Some Street Trees

Last week workers replaced the dead street tree in front of my building, it was planted in 2008. Other trees in front of the building are older, but this spot is where dogs go as soon as their owners  take them outside. I’m not sure if that’s the cause of the short lifespan of the last tree or one of numerous reasons it didn’t survive.

ABOVE: Newly planted street tree in front of my building.

Hopefully this tree will last longer. I saw the workers digging out the old tree but I didn’t stick around to see how it had been planted or the conditions. I did snap a picture of a hole for a street tree around the corner just before the tree was planted.

ABOVE: Just before a street tree was planted on 16th next to the Leather Trades Lofts

Yes, the earth surrounding the hole is filled with bricks. How do we expect trees to survive when the root system has to compete with bricks and other debris?

– Steve Patterson


Readers: Global Warming Is Affecting The Weather In The United States

Most readers agreed that global warming is affecting the weather in the United States.The examples are numerous, too many to be a coincidence.

ABOVE: A May 22, 2011 tornado devastated much of Joplin MO. Looking west from Main & East 24th, click image for aerial. Photo date November 8, 2011

Take March:

Record and near-record breaking temperatures dominated the eastern two-thirds of the nation and contributed to the warmest March for the contiguous United States since records began in 1895. More than 15,000 warm temperature records were broken during the month. The average temperature of 51.1°F was 8.6 degrees above the 20th century average. In the past 117 years, only one month (January 2006) has ever been so much warmer than its average temperature. (It’s official: March 2012 warmth topped the charts)

Last month it got ugly:

The storm center determined that 75 tornadoes touched down in Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa and Nebraska during a 24-hour period beginning at 6 a.m. Saturday. Six people died as a result of an overnight tornado that hit Woodward, Okla., about 140 miles northwest of Oklahoma City. No other deaths were reported. (Huffington Post)

Then in the news on April 23:

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A nor’easter packing soaking rain and springtime snow churned up the Northeast on Monday, unleashing a burst of winter, closing some schools and triggering power outages in communities that were basking in record warmth a month ago. (Washington Post)

And Saturday:

One person is dead, five others critically injured after powerful winds upended a huge tent outside a downtown St. Louis bar, sending tent poles flying through the crowd. (KMOV)

The above was the first of two storm systems in the St. Louis area, just hours apart.

ABOVE: Hail from the second storm on Saturday ripped leaves from street trees downtown such as these on 15th

In the poll there were some votes from likely Climate Change Deniers but most agree man has managed to alter weather patterns.

The poll results are below, the question came from page 16 of this report from Yale. National averages are the second percentages shown below:

How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Global warming is affecting the weather in the United States.

  1. Strongly agree 76 [61.29% / 26%]
  2. Somewhat agree 27 [21.77% / 43%]
  3. Somewhat disagree 11 [8.87% / 19%]
  4. Strongly disagree 10 [8.06% / 11%]

The original post introducing the poll is here.

– Steve Patterson



St. Louis Earth Day Festival; Poll On Global Warming

Earth Day is recognized all over the world today, including here in St. Louis:

The St. Louis Earth Day Festival is the oldest Earth Day festival in the Midwest and the third largest celebration in the country! Attracting 30,000+ attendees annually, the Festival is a premier destination for the public to learn about a wide-range of environmental issues in an engaging and entertaining setting. 

The St. Louis Earth Day Festival is today, Sunday April 22nd, from 11am to 6pm in Forest Park. The event is free.

ABOVE: Forest Park

The organizers, naturally, would prefer you not drive to Forest Park for the event, their “Planning Your Visit” page offers directions on using public transit, bicycling, walking and carpooling. Unfortunately, like most local events they mention MetroLink but forgot about MetroBus — you know the part of our public transit that carries more people daily.

The number of bus lines around Forest Park are too numerous to list. Besides taking a bus to Forest Park you can take a bus to one of the MetroLink stations to get on the light rail system. Buy a transfer on the bus ($2.75 total) and the transfer will also cover your MetroLink trip for 2 hours.

ABOVE: From Metro's Missouri system map, click to view (large PDF)


The poll this week seeks to see if readers see a connection between global warming and the weather in the US. The poll question was copied from a national poll that will be credited on Wednesday May 2, 2012 when the poll results are presented. The poll is in the right sidebar.

– Steve Patterson


Local Green Projects Received Awards

Green design is becoming more and more commonplace such that competition for awards among many green projects is now crowded. Last week I attended the Growing Green Awards hosted by the USGBC Gateway Chapter.

ABOVE: Cannon Design's St. Louis office

One award winner stood out to me because of the horrible condition the building was in prior to the renovation work. The 1928 building was a power house supplying heat to downtown buildings until 1980, when it was abandoned.

AWARDEE: Cannon Design

When Cannon Design chose to relocate their office – they were presented with an opportunity that allowed them not only to reuse and restore a unique and historic structure in the City of St. Louis but also redevelop a Brownfield site and develop an interior space that supports the most forward-thinking workplace while still maintaining the historic integrity of the architectural features. Almost 99% of the existing walls, floors and roof structure were reused while 92% of the construction waste was recycled. While many sustainability measures were taken during the restoration of the former steam generation plant, the one with arguably the biggest impact was Cannon’s commitment to reusing an existing building and identifying the reuse as an opportunity for creation rather than an hindrance of a vision.

Operational Excellence Nominees: Joe Abernathy – St. Louis Cardinals; Barnes-Jewish Hospital; Cannon Design; Graybar; Novus International; Tarlton

For more information on their office click here. Read about all those who received awards here. Congrats to all the nominees and winners.

– Steve Patterson