Sewage leak closes bayfront water

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SARASOTA--On a hot spring day, not even giant yellow warning signs were enough to keep swimmers out of the water near Island Park.

Even though city officials say the water there could be contaminated with raw sewage, after an underground pipe was found to be leaking Saturday morning.

"We estimate approximately four hundred gallons came out of the manhole, and we collected about one hundred gallons, [and] approximately three hundred gallons went into a storm drain," said Gerald Boyce with Sarasota City Utilities.

The storm drain he spoke of empties right into the water on either side of Island Park.

People who go there often, including one man who didn't want to be identified, say they didn't know about the spill until Sunday morning.

"I was here yesterday, everything was fine," said the park-goer, "I show up this morning, they have this big sign."

Officials say it took crews about forty-five minutes to fix the problem, but it's anyone's guess as to how long the sewage was leaking.

Business owners ABC7 News spoke with who didn't want to appear on camera say that anytime this happens it drives customers away, fearful of becoming sick or having to deal with foul odors.

It's a price they may be having to pay right now, but some wonder if it's the city that should be paying the price.

"I hope they get a fine from the EPA," said one man, "that's what its going to take for them to get on top of this stuff."

The city is conducting tests on the water to establish whether or not high bacteria levels are present. Those results are expected sometime Sunday evening.