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City reports spill at Utilities plant; Public cautioned to avoid contact near outfalls

Post Date:12/21/2018 11:12 AM

Contact:  Jan Thornburg, Sr. Communications Manager  941-954-2613

Sarasota, FL:  A 48-inch diameter pipe ruptured at the Utilities campus on 12th Street around 9 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 20 during the rainstorm, releasing an estimated 900,000Utilities, wastewater gallons of wastewater on site.  Some of the wastewater entered into the stormwater system discharging into Sarasota Bay.  Initial water quality tests have been taken near the 10th Street and 12th Street outfalls along U.S. 41.  In an abundance of caution, the public should temporarily avoid contact with the water in the Bay near the two outfall locations.

The pipeline was isolated by City crews and discharges stopped in approximately one hour, by 10 a.m.  The heavy rainfall created significant groundwater infiltration into the sanitary sewer system, diluting the wastewater.

 “An investigation into the cause of the rupture and extensive repairs are underway at the 12th Street campus,” said Utilities Director Bill Riebe.  “Service to Utilities customers is not expected to be impacted and treatment operations are back to normal.”

Following the break, the City notified the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Department of Health-Sarasota County.  The affected areas are being sanitized.

“From what I saw during my on-site inspection, the Utilities team responded exceptionally well to this unusual situation at the height of the storm,” said City Manager Tom Barwin.  “They worked through the night on this incident to minimize impacts and monitored the entire wastewater system as the storm put added stress on several lift stations within the system.  With the bad weather, we don’t anticipate many people would be interested in being in the water near the outfalls on 10th Street and 12th Street.  But, as a precaution we’re asking individuals to avoid contact with the water for the time being until the water tests come back.”

Initial water quality test results will be available Saturday Dec. 22. Messaging to the public will be coordinated with the Florida Department of Health-Sarasota County.

“Here and throughout the country, aging wastewater systems should be considered for any federal infrastructure legislation which may be considered,” said Barwin.  “Legacy sanitary systems around the country are fragile and need updating which will be an important environmental investment.”

For more information contact Utilities Director Bill Riebe:  941-365-2200 ext. 6210



About the City of Sarasota:  Distinguished by Google as a Digital Capital in the U.S., the City of Sarasota is a diverse community located on Florida’s Suncoast with 55,000 year-round residents, several internationally recognized cultural arts venues, stunning sunsets along Lido Beach, a 45-hole municipal golf course at the historic Bobby Jones Golf Club, and Major League spring training baseball with the Baltimore Orioles.  Learn more about us at SarasotaFL.Gov



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