Malfunctioning equipment at county lift station leads to about 2,500 gallons of sewage flowing from manholes into stormwater in Venice

Crews recover approximately 36,000 gallons of sewage combined with stormwater

This graphic shows the location of the sewage spill. Image courtesy FDEP

On Dec. 9, a malfunction of equipment resulted in the discharge of about 2,500 gallons of sewage from several manholes in the vicinity of the Sarasota County lift station located at 1171 Kittiwake Drive in Venice, county staff reported to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

A contractor’s employees were working on improvements to the lift station at the time of the incident, the report said.

County staff members and the contractor’s employees determined that a bypass pump had failed, resulting in the sewage entering the stormwater system in the area, the report explained.

Altogether, crews were able to recover 36,000 gallons of sewage combined with stormwater from the affected stormwater structures, the FDEP notice said. The bypass pumps were repaired, the report added, “and every storm box that was affected was pumped out. No surface waters were impacted,” the notice continued, so no water sampling was required for public health purposes.

“Notifications and cleanup are proceeding per [county] protocol,” the notice added.

The incident site is east of U.S. 41 and Pinebrook Road and north of Center Road.

The lift station is in the service area of the county’s Venice Gardens Water Reclamation Facility (WRF), the FDEP report noted. The Venice Gardens facility stands at 375 Venice E. Blvd. in Venice.

This is a close-up of the affected area of Kittiwake Drive. Image from Google Maps

High Tide Technologies explains, “A wastewater lift station is a pumping station that moves wastewater from a lower elevation to a higher elevation. The benefit of using a lift station in a sewage collection system is that it saves a substantial amount of money in excavation costs, which involves digging for sewer pipes. Sewer pipes live underground, and digging trenches is costly. Installing a wastewater lift station at certain points in a gravity pipeline system saves on front-end construction costs without sacrificing efficiency or functionality.”

Lift stations “play an integral role in moving sewage to a wastewater treatment plant,” High Tide Technologies adds.

The county’s Construction — One Week Look Ahead report for Dec. 6-12, published by the county’s Capital Projects Department, says that the Kittiwake Drive Lift Station is one of two lift stations undergoing rehabilitation work. When the initiatives have been completed, the report continues, the life of the lift stations will be extended by more than 20 years.

The other station is located at 5600 Swift Road in Sarasota.

The rehabilitation efforts are scheduled to be finished in the early winter of 2022, the report adds.

Over the past couple of years, county Public Utilities Department staff has been working on numerous sewer system projects with the goal of improving water quality countywide.