About 48,000 gallons of sewage flows into stormwater ditch near intersection of 11th Street and North Shade Avenue in Sarasota after collapse of manhole

City crews recover all but ‘minimal amount’ of effluent

On the morning of Sept. 1, approximately 48,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled into a stormwater ditch adjacent to a manhole that collapsed near the intersection of 11thStreet and North Shade Avenue in the city of Sarasota, the city’s Utilities Department reported to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

Utility crews blocked off the stormwater ditch at 17th Street “and completely contained the spill,” the FDEP report said. Tanker trucks that pumped effluent from the ditch were able to remove 144,000 gallons, the report added.

A Sept. 2 City of Sarasota newsletter said that “a minimal amount” of the sewage escaped into the stormwater system.

“Repairs to the manhole are ongoing,” the FDEP report noted. Samples of water from the affected area would be collected in accord with City of Sarasota protocols, the FDEP report said.

That manhole covered a 24-inch gravity sewer line, the city newsletter added.

The incident began just after 9 a.m. on Sept. 1, the FDEP report said. The Utilities Department crews completed their work at 10:30 a.m., the report added.

Prior to the failure of the manhole, the report pointed out, both Sarasota County and private utility personnel had been at the site; “the structure was sound at that time,” the report said.

The city’s Sept. 2 newsletter also pointed out that this latest sewage spill followed an incident last week involving about 340,000 gallons of sewage that ended up in a storm drain that leads to Whitaker Bayou.

The newsletter also said of the Sept. 2 incident, “This highlights the need to continue moving forward with our Utilities master plan. In the past three years,” the newsletter continued, $54 million has been invested into rehabilitating manholes, pipes and connections from homes to the pipes, plus the installation of permanent emergency generators at pumping and storage facilities, and other, related projects.

In the 2023 fiscal year budget, an additional $11.7 million has been dedicated “for infrastructure renewal and replacement,” the newsletter noted.

“Our constant goal is zero leaks,” the newsletter said. “We want to leave the environment in better condition for future generations. Led by Director Bill Riebe, the Utilities team will remain vigilant and work every day to do what they can to safeguard, protect and improve our water quality and natural resources,” that section of the newsletter concluded.

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