City of Sarasota officials hope to avoid costly pipeline replacement
SARASOTA — It could cost nearly $3 million to replace a pipeline that burst in late December, sending sewage into Sarasota Bay, if the pipe is deemed vulnerable in the city’s ongoing analysis of its aging infrastructure.
The Sarasota City Commission received an update from city staffers — at the urging of Commissioner Hagen Brody — about the pipe and efforts to prevent another major spill. According to city documents, a roughly 30-year-old pipe that ruptured on Dec. 20, discharging 918,000 gallons of untreated wastewater into Sarasota Bay near Centennial Park, could cost the city $2.8 million if an ongoing evaluation of the city’s pipelines reveals vulnerabilities in the larger pipeline.
But it’s City Manager Tom Barwin’s hope that replacing approximately 100 feet of the pipe, an undertaking completed Jan. 24, could avoid the need to replace the entire line.
“If there’s a situation that the analysis teases out that we have a vulnerable problem, then we have to address it,” Barwin said.
In the aftermath of the spill, the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County issued a health advisory to residents and visitors near Sarasota Bay asking them to take special precautions. The public was warned to avoid the water in the bay near the park and anyone who came into contact with water from Sarasota Bay was urged to wash thoroughly, especially before eating or drinking, the health department advised.