About 4,700 gallons of fully treated, reclaimed water spills at intersection of Bee Ridge and Lorraine roads

Two incidents in same general location over past three weeks involve crews working on Peace River Authority project

This graphic shows the location of the Feb. 28 spill. Image courtesy FDEP

Approximately 4,700 gallons of fully treated, reclaimed water spilled at the intersection of Bee Ridge and Lorraine roads in Sarasota on Feb. 28 after a contractor bored into one abandoned pipeline and then an active pipeline, county staff has reported to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

None of the reclaimed water could be recovered at the site, the report said. Notifications of affected property owners and residents, along with clean-up of the spill area, proceeded according to county protocol, the report added.

Public Utilities Department staff planned to file a claim with the county’s Risk Management staff in an effort to gain reimbursement for the costs incurred in dealing with the incident, the report noted.

This is the second spill in that general location in the past three weeks. On Feb. 12, as The Sarasota News Leader reported, approximately 4,200 gallons of raw sewage overflowed near the Bee Ridge Road-Lorraine Road intersection after a contractor’s crew struck a 6-inch sewer force main. All of that effluent was recovered by county staff using a vacuum truck, a county supervisor informed FDEP.

In response to a News Leader inquiry this week about the two incidents, Brooke Bailey, director of the county’s Public Utilities Department, explained in a March 5 email that the contractor crews in both cases were working on Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority projects. “Eventually, this water supply line will go all the way up to Fruitville [Road] and Lorraine to connect to Sarasota County’s water supply system,” she wrote. “The completion date is March 2025.”

Bailey also provided a copy of the project description, which said, “The Phase 3C Regional Integrated Loop project will consist of approximately 8 miles of [42-inch] diameter water main installed [from] Clark Road (SR 72) northward to the vicinity of Fruitville [Road] and Lorraine [Road] in northern Sarasota County. This project will extend the regional transmission main system northward towards Manatee County and serve the growing needs in northeastern Sarasota County.”

The total estimated cost of that initiative, the project sheet shows, is $63.2 million.

Sarasota County purchases most of its water supply each year from the Peace River Authority.

The latest spill began at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 28, that FDEP report said. The contractor’s crew first hit an abandoned 18-inch sewer force main and then an active 12-inch reclaimed water main, the report noted.

This is a view of the Bee Ridge Water Reclamation Facility on Lorraine Road in Sarasota in May 2021. The facility is being converted to Advanced Wastewater Treatment status. Image courtesy Sarasota County

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.”

County staff had the situation resolved by 11 a.m. on Feb. 28, the report added.

The affected pipelines are part of the infrastructure associated with the county’s largest wastewater treatment plant, the Bee Ridge Water Reclamation Facility, which stands at 5550 Lorraine Road in Sarasota.