An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: Sarasota County, USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

Sewage Spills on the Rise in Southwest Florida

Major plumbing failures and accidents sent nearly 17 million gallons of raw sewage — enough to cover a square mile with waste a foot deep — cascading into Southwest Florida neighborhood streets and vital waterways last year.

The spills from pipelines and wastewater treatment plants made 2011 the worst for raw sewage in the six years since consistent electronic record-keeping began in the 12-county area stretching from Sarasota County north to Citrus County.

Among the biggest events:

• In November, 1.5 million gallons erupted from a pipe running along Sarasota's scenic bayfront.

• In June, 3.5 million gallons poured from a pipe leading to Bradenton's treatment plant.

• In March, 5.8 million gallons burst from a pipe in Tampa.

Utility managers insist that the large spills were flukes, and that their systems are actually improving.

But an examination of state records by the Herald-Tribune shows that millions of gallons of raw and treated waste spew forth into the environment every year.