Harbor Acres stormwater system contaminated

Water stands in the grass and parking lot by Bayfront Park and Marina Jack. Photo by Norman Schimmel

A diluted mix of wastewater and stormwater flowed into the stormwater system in the Harbor Acres neighborhood today, June 25, as a result of heavy rainfall from Tropical Storm Debby, the City of Sarasota reported.

That rainfall created localized street flooding and high flows in the sanitary collection system, a city news release pointed out. “Crews stopped the spill by using pumper trucks to divert the flow,” the release said. Although the exact amount of the spill was unknown at the time of the city’s report, which came after 7:30 p.m., the news release said, “it is estimated 20,000 gallons of untreated wastewater mixed with stormwater entered the stormwater system. Crews have disinfected the impacted area.”

More than 4.3 inches of rain had been recorded in Sarasota in the previous 30 hours, the news release noted. “With such heavy rainfall, spills of this nature are not uncommon in sanitary systems in Southwest Florida,” the release continued, adding that crews would continue to monitor the Harbor Acres neighborhood and other low-lying areas throughout the night as Tropical Storm Debby continued “to drop significant rainfall on the area.”

Water samples were being taken along Sarasota Bay near the discharge locations, the release said.

The City of Sarasota Utilities Department notified the appropriate health and regulatory agencies, the release added.

Residents are cautioned to avoid direct contact with street flooding during any rain event because of the possibility of cross-contamination between wastewater and stormwater, the news release said.