Contractor working on Cattlemen Road project strikes sewer force main, spilling 4,800 gallons of raw sewage

Effluent recovered, with no water bodies affected

 On Saturday, May 6, a contractor excavating a site on Cattlemen Road, north of Palmer Boulevard, struck a 4-inch sewer force main, resulting in about 4,800 gallons of raw sewage spilling into the excavated area, Sarasota County Public Utilities staff reported to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

The effluent was recovered, the report pointed out, and no surface waters were affected. Therefore, the report said, no water sampling was required. The clean-up process and notification of adjacent property owners proceeded according to county protocol, the report noted.

The incident occurred in the area of 800 Cattlemen Road, the report said. The site is just south of Briar Rose Way and west of Interstate 75, a map shows.

As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains, “Force mains are pipelines that convey wastewater under pressure from the discharge side of a pump or pneumatic ejector to a discharge point. Pumps or compressors located in a lift station provide the energy for wastewater conveyance in force mains. “

This is the second time this year that a contractor working on the county’s Cattlemen Road project has struck utility equipment, leading to a sewage spill. As The Sarasota News Leader reported in early February, a contractor’s employee ran over a 2-inch, low-pressure force main valve located at 6025 S. Packinghouse Road. During that incident, approximately 2,500 gallons of raw sewage was discharged to the curb; county staff was able to recover about 1,700 gallons.

Phase 2 of the county’s Cattlemen Road project was awarded to Cobb Site Development of Wauchula on Aug. 24, 2021, and construction began in November 2021, a county Capital Projects Department initiative update explains. Among the elements of that undertaking are the widening of Cattlemen Road from 600 feet south of Palmer Boulevard to South Packinghouse Road, including the intersections of South Packinghouse Road and Cattlemen Road, Palmer Boulevard and Cattlemen Road, and South Packinghouse and Palmer Boulevard, the update adds.

As of this month, the update continues, “Reconstruction on Cattlemen southbound is underway.”

The project also includes the installation of new traffic signals, construction of sidewalks, installation of a new water main pipeline, and sanitary sewer improvements, the update points out. The undertaking is expected to be completed in June.

The construction contract calls for the county to pay Cobb $6,930,477.45, the update adds.

The latest spill in the project area began about 6 p.m. on Saturday, the report to FDEP added. County crews completed their work by 7 p.m., the report noted.

The Public Utilities Department workers were able to isolate the force main and replace the damaged segment of pipeline, the report explained.

County staff planned to submit details of this latest incident to risk management staff, “to seek reimbursement for incurred costs,” the report pointed out.

The force main that was damaged is part of the county’s Bee Ridge Water Reclamation Facility infrastructure. The Bee Ridge plant is located at 5550 Lorraine Road in Sarasota.