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Water-Related News

Timeline of the recent Longboat Key sewage spill

LONGBOAT KEY — The 20-inch diameter iron sewer line, submerged beneath the Sarasota Bay, was supposed to be delivering thousands of gallons of wastewater every 15 minutes from the Town of Longboat Key to a Manatee County water treatment facility on the mainland.

On June 18, Jeff Blosser, the lead operator at Manatee County’s Southwest Water Reclamation Facility in Bradenton, sent an urgent email to his utility counterparts on the barrier island: “Yesterday at 5:30 p.m. our flow reading from LBK dropped to zero and has stayed there.”

Blosser checked the meter and other equipment. He asked: Was there something wrong on Longboat Key’s end that would account for the sudden change?

There was.

At 8:45 a.m., just hours before Blosser sent the email, flow readings on Longboat Key plunged from 990 gallons per 15 minutes to zero.

But Longboat Key and Manatee County officials did not begin to decipher the problem until June 29, nearly two weeks after those flow readings, according to records obtained by the Herald-Tribune.

That’s when they discovered that the main sewer transmission line between Longboat and Manatee had ruptured, spilling an estimated 26 million gallons of sewage where the pipe heads ashore from Sarasota Bay.