SARASOTA (WWSB) - Nearly a million gallons of untreated sewage and wastewater puts a big scare into the Suncoast. A pipe bursting at the water treatment plant property on 12th street during the big storm last Thursday, most of it contained to the location, some of it ending up in Sarasota Bay at the 10th street and 12th street outfalls.
“We’re still excavating down to the site to determine what happened," said Verne Hall, Utilities General Manager for the city of Sarasota. "Our crews responded immediately to the situation to do the best we could to contain and remediate the area, get the flow stopped.”
This is concerning for some residents, even though the health department saying the water in the bay is now safe to enjoy. Longtime resident Mike Holderness tells us sewage contamination is much bigger than just this recent incident, saying the bay has been contaminated for at least more than a year, mainly because of all the development in the area.
“The city has drastically overbuilt the city without a proper infrastructure, deteriorating at a rapid rate," said Holderness. "So when our groundwater rises, the infiltration into our sewage system, the pressure is so high they just dump it into Sarasota Bay.”
City officials say there are some aging pipes, but they are constantly upgrading their infrastructure, including the pipes, to prevent sewage and wastewater spills from happening. Experts from Mote say it’s important to do everything we can to take care of our waters, especially coming off the worst red tide that hit the area in a very long time.
“We do know there is a good amount of nutrients in our sewage and we know that nutrients can potentially feed an existing red tide bloom,” said Dr. Tracy Fanara, a staff scientist for Mote Marine Lab.
Water contaminated with wastewater overflow can present health risks to humans. People are being encouraged to check with the health department for the safety of water in the area. City officials are continuing to investigate why the pipe had burst.