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Nearly 1 Million Gallons Of Wastewater Released In Sarasota

City of Sarasota Utilities
Utilities Director Bill Riebe and City Manager Tom Barwin on site

The storm that rumbled through Florida Thursday caused a rupture at a sewage treatment plant in Sarasota that released nearly one million gallons of wastewater.

Sarasota utilities officials say while most of the estimated 900,000 gallons of wastewater was contained at the site of the spill, an undetermined amount of wastewater flowed into Sarasota Bay.

The rupture in the 48-inch diameter pipe happened at the city's utility plant on 12th Street.

"In an abundance of caution, the public should temporarily avoid contact with the water in the Bay near the two outfall locations," a news release from the city stated. Those outfalls are near 10th Street and 12th Street, along U.S. 41.

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

Credit City of Sarasota Utilities
City of Sarasota Utilities
Site of the pipeline rupture

“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.

City officials say water quality test results for Sarasota Bay will be available Saturday from the Florida Department of Health office in Sarasota County.

Credit Google Maps
Map of the spill site

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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