Marco island Pipe breaks, spilling 27,000 gallons of sewage

A small hole in a 4-inch sewer line on Marco Island released about 27,000 gallons of sewage on Thursday near Factory Bay.

City Water and Sewer General Manager Jeff Poteet confirmed that the discharge line failed after a 1-inch hole appeared where a private system meets the pipes of the city. The spill occurred on Bald Eagle Drive, near Pier 81.

A vacuum truck was dispatched and was able to recover approximately 3,500 gallons.

“We have isolated this part of the system and are bypassing this valve arch and will replace this valve set,” Poteet said.

The valve vault is a set of meters where the city accepts wastewater from a private collection system before transporting it to the city’s wastewater treatment plant. The meters monitor the amount of wastewater flowing through the assembly for billing purposes, Poteet said.

A fair amount of sewage seeped into the ground, Poteet said, and a large retention area nearby may have collected some. Poteet said he was not sure whether sewage had spilled into storm sewers or Factory Bay, but the city plans to monitor water quality.

“We take samples upstream and downstream and at the point where the outfall is,” he said. “We will continue to sample until we see that it is back to normal.”

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The first sample was sent to Sanders Labs in Fort Myers on Thursday, and Poteet said it would take about two days for the results to come back.

If anything abnormal is found that may pose a health risk, he said the city will notify the public using the Code Red system by phone or by contacting local media.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued a public notice regarding the spill on Thursday. The incident began at 5:30 a.m. and lasted three hours, according to the agency.

“Most of the discharges were contained on the ground in the gully and some of the discharges reached the structure of the stormwater which drains into Factory Bay,” the advisory said.

The broken section has been bypassed, according to a city press release, and staff are planning appropriate repairs.

“For now, the spill site has been cleaned and disinfected, and there is no danger to the public,” the statement said. “The site has been inspected by Collier County Pollution Control. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has also been notified.

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He said it had been about five to eight years since the city had a major spill, the last being in Old Marco.

The spill site was decontaminated with lime and the nearby sidewalk was pressure washed.

The city will replace the valve assembly as soon as possible, Poteet said, although it may take a few weeks for the parts to arrive.

Karl Schneider is an environmental journalist. You can reach him at [email protected] Follow on Twitter @karlstartswithk

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