Contractor installing power poles ruptures county sewer pipeline, which spills 10,000 gallons of sewage into ditch in southwest quadrant of Palmer Road and Niobe Road

County staff recovers about 20,000 gallons of sewage mixed with stormwater

An FDEP map shows the location of the sewer force main rupture. Image courtesy FDEP

On April 21, a contractor installing power lines ruptured a sewer force main in the southwest quadrant of Palmer Road and Niobe Road in Sarasota County, resulting in a spill of 10,000 gallons of sewage into a roadside drainage ditch, Sarasota County staff reported to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

County staff was able to recover about 20,000 gallons of sewage mixed with stormwater after responding to the scene, the FDEP report said. Notification of the line break came at 1 a.m., and county staff remained on the scene until 6 a.m., the FDEP report added.

The incident occurred close to the county’s Celery Fields, the internationally known bird-watching area, and Big Cat Habitat. The initial investigation revealed that the contractor was working for Florida Power & Light Co., the FDEP report pointed out.

A sewer force main “is a pressurized sewer pipe that conveys wastewater in a situation where gravity sewage flow is not possible,” Trenchlesspedia explains. “Pumps or compressors push the sewage through the force main from lower to higher elevations or across landscapes where deep excavation is not feasible,” Trenchlesspedia adds.

This aerial view shows the intersection of Palmer Boulevard and Niobe Road, just south of the Celery Fields and Big Cat Habitat. Image from Google Maps

County crews were able to redirect the flow from the 12-inch force main, make repairs to the line and return the force main to normal service, the FDEP report said.

“Cleanup, sampling and notifications are proceeding per protocol,” the report continued.

The sewer force main is part of the infrastructure associated with the county’s Bee Ridge Water Reclamation Facility, which is located at 5550 Lorraine Road in Sarasota