(Note from Erin: I’m not sure how much more I can take; I’m exhausted and angry watching the disasters that keep befalling our amazing state and ecosystem here in Florida. Thankfully, the mess has been cleaned up. But, how many other abandoned or ignored pipes exist? When is this going to happen again?)
Last Monday, a pipe that wasn’t properly abandoned (workers left behind a 15-foot section in a place that should have been abandoned), after it was replaced almost four decades ago, leaked an estimated 870,000 gallons of sewage into the Indian River Lagoon.
“Titusville Water Resources field crews were able to stop the leak behind one of its lift stations on Indian River Avenue about three hours after the discovery, according to a city press release. A resident living nearby noticed the raw sewage bubbling up in his backyard Monday.
City officials determined that a portion of the old force main, abandoned and replaced almost four decades ago, remained active and had ruptured, causing sewage to flow into the lagoon.
Crews shut down and properly abandoned the damaged line, the city release said, and the area was cleaned and disinfected according to regulations. Authorities also circulated yellow warning signs in the nearby area, alerting residents to the spill.”1
However, the question remains, how long has the pipe been spewing wastewater?
The city reported the discharge to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection who said they would now start collecting water quality samples “at multiple locations within several miles of the incident,” and will continue to until the water quality returns to its pre-spill conditions.
Ashley L. Gardner, a communications specialist with the state agency said they would hold the facility accountable, identify any necessary restoration and/or remediation actions, and potentially enforce “fines and penalties for associated violations.”2
According to Sean Stauffer, Titusville Water Resources Director, current regulations didn’t require the city to issue a news release regarding the leak to its citizens but they did so because they want to “keep its citizens informed.” 3
He also reminded Floridians that “Repairing and replacing infrastructure is one of the biggest expenses for a utility. Florida’s coastal soils are very hard on pipes, concrete, and other parts of the infrastructure, so it’s a never-ending process to keep things repaired.”4
At this point, the river has been reopened but when are government officials going to understand how important our water is? We will update you if we receive any new information.