Smelly, brown substance in creek leaves neighbors on alert in St. Louis County

A mysterious substance with a strong smell put people on alert in Webster Groves.
Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 10:20 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 26, 2023 at 9:49 AM CDT
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WEBSTER GROVES, Mo. (KMOV) - A mysterious substance with a strong smell put people on alert in Webster Groves.

Neighbors who live along Greeley Avenue are mystified by a dark color and film swirling from a water source that runs from Deer Creek.

“It didn’t take much to knock me off my feet from the smell,” said Ashleigh Boyd, who lives near the creek.

The creek runs through a certified wildlife habitat. Boyd told First Alert 4 she started smelling a strong chemical in the air Monday around noon.

“It was completely brown, you could not see through, and this is a hundred times better, but this is still pathetic,” said Boyd. “It was literally overwhelming to the point where I had to like catch my breath off the smell of like oil or gasoline.”

First Alert 4 crews could smell a chemical odor near the creek Monday evening. Our cameras also captured a slick over the water. Neighbors said it was worse earlier on Monday.

The Metropolitan Sewer District said a Missouri American Water line broke at Oakwood and Fairlawn recently. In a statement, MSD said:

“Some sediment is washing into the creek as a result of that water main break -- which is why the water looks the way that it does. There are no issues with the wastewater system. Not sure where the petroleum smell is coming from, but there are no signs of petroleum in the water.”

However, neighbors tell us there’s a dark spot near a sewer a few blocks away. They believe a chemical may have poured out or leaked and that’s the blame.

MSD said it would continue monitoring.

First Alert 4 reached out to American Water to see if the water was contaminated. They have not responded at the publishing at this article.