Three sewage spills linked to Eta’s rainfall

Sarasota County reports largest incident, involving 8,000 gallons at a site off Lakewood Ranch Boulevard

This aerial map shows the location of the largest spill, at a Sarasota County lift station on Wendell Kent Road. Image from Google Maps

The rain Tropical Storm Eta poured on Sarasota County this week resulted in three sewage spills, based on reports the City of Sarasota and Sarasota County provided the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) as of Nov. 12.

The largest of the three — involving approximately 8,000 gallons — was discovered at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11 at 1702 Wendell Kent Road, which is east of Interstate 75, just off Lakewood Ranch Boulevard.

In that situation, the FDEP report said, county staff members “responded to a high level alarm” at the lift station at that site. All of the pumps were running at a reduced speed, they found, according to the report.

“A control issue limited the pump speed,” the report continued, so staff switched the pumps to manual mode, “and the spill immediately stopped.”

This is the FDEP graphic showing the location of the lift station. Image courtesy FDEP

Staff determined that about 8,000 gallons had flowed onto the ground surrounding the lift station, the report said. Altogether, staff recovered 36,000 gallons of sewage mixed with rainwater. “No bodies of water were affected,” the report pointed out, so water sampling for public health purposes was not required.

The situation was resolved by 4 p.m. on Nov. 11, the report said.

The Wendell Kent Road lift station is part of the Bee Ridge Wastewater Treatment Facility’s service area, the report noted.

In the second incident, which began at 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 11, city crews discovered a break in a 16-inch PVC reclaimed water distribution line at the intersection of Osprey Avenue and Bay Street, that report explained. “Crews were able to isolate the line,” it added. Repairs will be made at a later date, the report said.

Approximately 1,500 gallons of “highly treated reclaimed water was discharged to Hudson Bayou,” the report noted. No cleanup actions were required, it added.

That situation was resolved by 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 11, the report said.

This is the location of the Hudson Bayou spill in the city of Sarasota. Image courtesy FDEP

The affected line is part of the City of Sarasota’s Advanced Wastewater Treatment Facility’s system, the report pointed out. The facility itself is located at 1750 12th St. in Sarasota.

The third incident began at 10:30 p.m. on Nov. 11; it also involved the City of Sarasota’s Advanced Wastewater Treatment Facility, that report said.

The city’s sewage collection system “experienced exceptionally high flows during Hurricane Eta,” that report explained. At one point, it continued, the flow from Lift Station 54 “was unable to overcome the flow from the much larger [Lift Station] 30.”

This aerial map shows the location of the John Ringling Boulevard spill. Image from Google Maps

As a result, the report said, about 300 gallons of untreated wastewater mixed with rainwater was discharged from Lift Station 54 into a parking garage located at 702 John Ringling Blvd. The address is that of the Sarasota Yacht Club, which is just east of the Plymouth Harbor complex.

Tanker trucks were dispatched to the location, the report added, to pump wastewater from Lift Station 54 in an effort to stop the discharge. After the situation was resolved, the report noted, the area was cleaned up in accord with City of Sarasota protocols.

“The spill was contained on site,” the report pointed out.

Staff’s efforts at the site were completed by 11 p.m. the report added.

Sarasota County Public Utilities Department staff did issue an advisory on Nov. 11, via the county’s Communications Department, urging customers to use as little water as possible while Eta was dumping rain on the community. During past storms, wastewater spills have occurred when treatment systems have been overwhelmed, county staff has explained. (See the related article in this issue.)