About 5,000 gallons of raw sewage spills at 582 McIntosh Road in Sarasota after contractor damages pipeline

County staff recovers approximately 3,500 gallons of effluent

This graphic shows the location of the July 12 incident. Image courtesy FDEP

On July 11, a contractor working on a new development damaged a sewer force main located at 582 McIntosh Road in Sarasota, leading to the spill of about 5,000 gallons of raw sewage, which flowed into a retention pond on the property, county Public Utilities Department staff reported to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

County crews were able to recover approximately 3,500 gallons of the effluent, the report noted.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains that a sewer force main is a pipeline that conveys wastewater “from a lower to a 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.”

County Commission Chair Alan Maio has noted on numerous occasions that, because the land in the county is so flat, structures are necessary to push wastewater through the utilities system.

The EPA also points out, “Pumps or compressors located in a lift station provide the energy for wastewater conveyance in force mains.”

This graphic, shown on the High Tide Technologies website, explains how a lift station works. Image from the website.

Cleanup of the McIntosh Road site and notifications to surrounding property owners were underway, according to county protocols, the FDEP report added. “Spill samples will be taken,” the report said.

The incident began at 2 p.m. on July 11, the report noted. It took county crews until 3:45 p.m. to resolve the problem, the report added.

This aerial map shows the spill location, as well. Image from Google Maps

The contractor’s employees were installing a stormwater structure when they damaged the 8-inch sewer force main, the report explained. County staff was able to isolate the force main by shutting off a nearby lift station, the report said.

The sewer force main is part of the infrastructure associated with the county’s Bee Ridge Water Reclamation Facility, which stands at 5550 Lorraine Road in Sarasota. The Bee Ridge plant is the county’s largest wastewater treatment facility. It is being converted to an Advanced Wastewater Treatment process.