Two watermain breaks in less than a week keep county Public Utilities crews busy on Siesta Key and Clark Road

Incidents reported on Sept. 7 and Sept. 13

Sarasota County Public Utilities Department staff has contended with two broken watermains in less than a week — one on Siesta Key’s Beach Road and the other on Clark Road, east of the Beneva Road intersection, as noted in county reports.

The Siesta incident occurred about 5 p.m. on Sept. 7 in front of the public beach park, a resident told The Sarasota News Leader; county staff confirmed that timeline.

The break was caused by a failed fitting on the 10-inch PVC watermain line, the Public Utilities staff explained to the News Leader in a Sept. 15 email. That pipeline was installed in 1973, Public Utilities staff noted.

Trenchlesspedia points out that a watermain “is a primary underground pipe in a municipal water distribution system. It is a major artery that supplies water to smaller pipes on the way to homes and businesses. … The pipes transport a high volume of water under pressure to neighborhoods,” Trenchlesspedia adds.

On Sept. 12, Public Utilities staff explained in an email, “The sidewalk and road are not restored yet. Crews have been working on the asphalt restoration today and plan to finish tomorrow [Sept. 13]. The sidewalk restoration will be scheduled for the near future, as opening the road is our priority.”

The second incident involved a pipeline located approximately 200 feet east of the Beneva Road intersection with Clark Road, staff reported on Sept. 13. The 2-inch pipeline runs from the 12-inch watermain to the north side of Clark Road, staff explained in the Sept. 15 email.

County staff sent out an advisory at 4:34 p.m. that day, warning that the two inside lanes of Clark Road from Beneva Road almost to the intersection of Mirror Lake Road were closed.

Since that is a state road, staff also notified the Florida Department of Transportation, the advisory pointed out.

That 12-inch PVC watermain was installed in 1997, the Sept. 15 Public Utilities email added.

Repairs to the watermain took place overnight, Public Utilities staff said in the email, while the asphalt restoration was completed early in the morning of Sept. 14, “so we could open the lanes before the morning rush hour.”

A watermain break occurred in 2015, approximately 125 feet west of the affected area of Clark Road this week, staff noted in response to a News Leader report that readers had commented on an earlier incident in the same general vicinity.

In regard to the Siesta incident: Architect Mark Smith, who is chair-elect of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, told the News Leader that a fellow Chamber leader contacted him about the situation. Smith added that he and his wife, Esther, drove over to the site to take a look at it.

The water pressure had buckled the road and the adjacent sidewalk, Smith said. “Water was gushing out to beat the band …”

The affected section of road looked as though a whale had been beneath it and decided to rise to the surface, Smith added, describing a big hump in the asphalt.

Water was gushing over the curb, he said.

Most businesses in Siesta Village closed shortly afterward, Smith pointed out, since they had little to no water.

Asked whether any “Boil water” advisories were issued that day, county Media Relations Officer Drew Winchester replied that one was issued for one restroom in the north pavilion at Siesta Beach Park. “Other facilities at the pavilion were not impacted,” he wrote in his email.

By 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 7, Smith continued, county staff had dug up the damaged part of the road to work on the repairs.

On Sept. 15, when the News Leader asked Ann Frescura, executive director of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, whether she and her staff fielded complaints about businesses having to close early on Sept. 7, she responded that she did not believe the Chamber staff received any calls about the situation.

People just seemed to shrug it off, she added, including the detours around the area while the repairs were underway.

“With all the construction that’s going on on the north end,” Frescura said, drivers have become used to finding what she characterized as “the scenic route” to get to their destinations on the Key.

She was referring to the drainage project that has been underway on Higel Avenue, Ocean Boulevard and Lotus Lane. That is supposed to wrap up by the end of this month, based on the latest county construction update.