A 63-year-old sewer pipe fractured Monday afternoon and began discharging near the northern end of the Osprey Avenue Bridge. Dale Haas with the city’s public works department says work will continue through the night to make repairs.
In the meantime, a flotilla of tanker trucks are being assembled to take the sewage away from the site. Haas said a little bit of the material leaked into Hudson Bayou after the 12:30 p.m. break, which was quickly contained. A city press release estimates 200 gallons went into the bayou.
“We’ve already had people taking samples from the bayou, both upstream and downstream,” Haas said. “We won’t get the results back from the lab for 24 to 36 hours.” In the meantime, health advisory signs will be posted.
The accident was not the result of digging, but rather from a failed “pipe-stop” installed about a week ago on a 14-inch force main that collects sewage from as many as 10 lift stations in the city for transport to the wastewater treatment plant on 14th Street. The 63-year-old asbestos-cement pipe is an unusual size not made anymore, which will complicate the repair, Haas said.
Workers immediately dug a hole to contain the spillage and used a pump to begin filling tanker trucks. By 3 p.m., more than 10,000 gallons had been hauled away to the 14th Street plant. Haas said he could not estimate this afternoon how many gallons per hour were still gurgling up from the pipe.
Equipment is being called in from around the state, including Orlando and West Palm Beach, to tackle the spill. Extra pumps are being mobilized, as well as lights. “We’ll be working well into the evening, maybe overnight,” Haas said.
Contractor Westa Construction immediately notified the city of the fracture, and crews are isolating the problem. The site is at the north end of the Osprey Avenue bridge over the bayou, which has been closed to traffic for construction of a new lift station in Lukewood Park.
Haas said the pipe fracture will not affect the work under way on the new lift station.
Update: The City of Sarasota is asking residents to minimize their water usage until approximately 11:00 p.m. tonight while crews work to isolate and repair a forcemain break. Reducing the flow into the system will assist with the repair process, the city said.