About 2,500 gallons of sewage spills from Bent Tree Master Lift Station in Sarasota County, with approximately 400 gallons recovered

Contractor rehabilitating facility had installed partial bypass of sewage system, which resulted in incident, county reports to FDEP

This graphic shows the site of the sewage spill. Image courtesy FDEP

A July 8 problem associated with the Bent Tree Master Lift Station in Sarasota resulted in approximately 2,500 gallons of sewage spilling onto an adjacent construction site, with only about 400 gallons recovered, Sarasota County Public Utilities Department staff reported to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

Notifications to surrounding property owners and cleanup efforts proceeded per county protocol, the report pointed out. “Surface waters were not impacted,” the report said, so no water sampling was necessary.

The report explained that, about 1:30 p.m. last Friday, county Public Utilities staff members were traveling on Bee Ridge Road when they noticed a flashing light, warning of a problem at the Bent Tree Master Lift Station. When they arrived at the site, they found the wet well was overflowing, the report noted. The employees “immediately started working to stop the spill and begin recovery efforts with pumper trucks,” the report said.

A lift station pumps wastewater from a lower elevation to a higher elevation, High Tide Technologies explains. Raw sewage is held in a storage container called a wet well, “which is essentially a holding cell that empties out once it reaches a predetermined level,” High Tide Technologies continues. “While in the wet well, the wastewater is tested and carefully monitored” to detect sewage levels. Solid materials are removed at that stage, High Tide Technologies adds.

The Bent Tree Master Lift Station is undergoing rehabilitation, the report on the July 8 incident pointed out; an outside contractor is handling that work.

During their investigation, the FDEP report said, county staff determined that a partial bypass of the sewage system, installed by the contractor, “was the root cause of the spill. The contractor was called in to make repairs and adjustments to the bypass setup,” the report explained.

It took until 3 p.m. on July 8 to rectify the situation, according to the FDEP report.

This is an aerial close-up of the Bent Tree Master Lift Station (left) and adjacent areas, including a hole on the Bent Tree Country Club golf course. Image from Google Maps

The Bent Tree Master Lift Station is part of the county’s Bee Ridge Water Reclamation Facility service area, the report noted.

On March 2, county staff reported a sewage spill of approximately 1,200 gallons from the same facility; that was a result of a sensor failure, the associated FDEP notice said. The sewage flowed into a dry retention pond on the site near the Bent Tree Country Club; only about 200 gallons was recovered, with the remainder absorbed into the ground.

Again, no surface waters were impacted, that report pointed out.

On June 24, during the presentation of his proposed Fiscal Year 2023 budget to the County Commission, Public Utilities Department Director Mike Mylett talked of the need for more staff to be hired to handle the supervision of the county’s lift stations. None of the commissioners objected to that expense.

Since the summer of 2019, the commissioners have taken a series of steps to improve the county’s wastewater treatment system, in an effort to improve the quality of water that ultimately ends up in Sarasota Bay.