Air valve failure at Lift Station 7 in city of Sarasota results in 3,000-gallon sewage spill

City staff to remove about 40,000 gallons from Hudson Bayou in effort to protect public health

This map shows the location of the spill. Image courtesy FDEP

Just a day after the Sarasota City Commission approved a contract for the final phase of its replacement, the city’s Lift Station 7 suffered an equipment failure, resulting in the spill of about 3,000 gallons of wastewater, the city notified the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

The incident was reported at 9:45 a.m. on May 19, with crews working until 2 p.m. to remedy the situation, the FDEP report said.

City crews found a broken 2-inch air release valve (ARV) at the Lift Station 7 site, which is located at 935 Pomelo Ave., the report explained.

“The station was shut down and tanker trucks were used to handle the flow while repairs to the ARV were completed,” the report said. The sewage spill entered the stormwater system, which discharges into Hudson Bayou, the report added.

“The ARV was repaired and the station put back in service,” the report continued. Then the affected area “was treated with lime, hosed down and vacuumed up.”

Approximately 40,000 gallons will be removed from Hudson Bayou by tanker truck as part of the cleanup process, the report pointed out. Additionally, samples will be collected to ensure no harm to public health, the report indicated.

In a blog, Crane Engineering explains, “Air release valves are installed at the highest points in a pipeline where air naturally collects. Air bubbles enter the valve and displace the liquid inside, lowering the liquid level. When the level drops to where it no longer buoys the float, the float drops. This motion pulls the seat away from the orifice, triggering the valve to open and vent the accumulated air into the atmosphere. As the air is vented, liquid re-enters the valve, once again buoying the float, lifting it until the seat presses against the orifice, closing the valve. This cycle automatically repeats as often as necessary to maintain an air-free system.”

Crane Engineering has offices in Wisconsin and Minnesota, its website says.

This is the site of Lift Station 7. Image from Google Maps

On May 18, the City Commission voted 4-1 — with Commissioner Hagen Brody in the minority — to award a $10-million contract to a Winter Garden company to undertake Phase 3 of the Lift Station 87 project. After that work has been completed — which is anticipated in March 2021 — Lift Station 87 will replace Lift Station 7, which then will be demolished, city staff has explained. (See the related article in this issue.)