About 2,400 gallons of reclaimed water spills in Palmer Ranch community after break in primary pipeline

None of liquid could be recovered, county reports to FDEP

A red balloon marks the site of the April 14 reclaimed water spill. Image from Google Maps

On April 14, a break in a Sarasota County main pipeline led to a spill of approximately 2,400 gallons of fully treated, reclaimed water at 7201 Villa D Este Drive on Palmer Ranch, county Public Utilities Department staff has reported to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

About 9:20 a.m. on Sunday, April 14, the report says, crews received a call that initially identified the problem as a break in a watermain. However, when crew members arrived on the site, the report continues, they discovered that a 6-inch reclaimed watermain had broken. “Our crews quickly isolated the main and stopped the spill,” the report adds.

No recovery of the reclaimed water was possible because of conditions at the site, the report points out, as the liquid had flowed into private reclaimed water holding ponds.

As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 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. … Force mains are used to convey wastewater from a lower to higher elevation, particularly where the elevation of the source is not sufficient for gravity flow and/or the use of gravity conveyance will result in excessive excavation depths and high sewer pipeline construction costs,” the EPA adds.

This FDEP graphic also shows the location of the spill. Image courtesy Florida Department of Environmental Protection

The reclaimed water pipeline is part of the infrastructure associated with the county’s Central County Water Reclamation Facility (WRF), which stands on Palmer Ranch, the report notes.

The county website explains, “Wastewater is pumped to the treatment plant through a network of underground pipes and lift stations. At the Central County WRF, the wastewater is screened to remove inorganic material. After screening, the wastewater goes through a biological process followed by filtration and disinfection of the reclaimed water.”

“Reclaimed water is an important component of both wastewater management and water resource management in Florida,” the Central County WRF webpage adds. “Its use is encouraged and promoted. Sarasota County’s reclaimed water meets or exceeds the Florida Department of Environmental Protection requirements for reclaimed water standards.”

The county sells reclaimed water to communities for irrigation.

Notifications about the spill were being provided to owners and residents of property in the affected area, the FDEP report says, and clean-up was proceeding according to county protocol. “We will evaluate the need for sampling and take action accordingly,” the report notes.

The situation was resolved by 11:15 a.m. on April 14, the report says.

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