Sarasota County may have to pay over $25 million in penalties for spilling 630 million gallons of treated and untreated wastewater

Sewage Spill Settlement

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The issue of sewage spills in Sarasota County has been going on for quite some time. Environmental groups say a recent settlement is a big step in the right direction.

Since May 2018, there have been around 83 spills of more than 630 million gallons of treated and untreated wastewater in Sarasota County. That’s led to a recent consent settlement between Sarasota County Commissioners and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

“It’s got a big price tag, but the result is going to be awesome," said Justin Bloom, Founder of Suncoast Waterkeeper. "It’s going to be a great improvement in the quality of stormwater and decrease the amount of pollution that’s going to end up in our waterways.”

Bloom says Suncoast Waterkeeper’s federal lawsuit with the county was also recently settled, forcing the county to start fixing the problem. Siesta Key resident and business owner Mike Holderness tells us this is a big victory for the environment and for residents of the Suncoast.

“It’s so important that we just protect our waterways, we don’t want impaired waters," said Holderness. "What we went through, we need to do more to protect them.”

The county could face penalties of more than $25 million and it could cost around $157 million to upgrade the Bee Ridge treatment plant, which is the main location that is responsible for many of the spills.

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