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Satellite Beach residents warned to avoid sewage spill

375,000 gallons of raw sewage

Malcolm Denemark/FLORIDA TODAY
Malcolm Denemark/FLORIDA TODAY

SATELLITE BEACH, Fla. – Signs warn residents along the Cassia Boulevard canal to avoid swimming or fishing in the area until bacteria test results come back early next week, after an estimated 375,000 gallons of raw sewage leaked from a nearby corroded pipe.

"Today’s sewage leak was the result of corrosion that occurred in a pipe between two shut-off valves," Don Walker, a Brevard County spokesman, said in a prepared statement about the incident.

At about 3:30 a.m Friday, Brevard County utilities workers found the sewer pipe break near 1390 S. Patrick Drive, according to Satellite Beach city manager's Facebook page. 

Raw sewage leaked onto S. Patrick Drive and into the canal between Cinnamon Court and Island View Drive, the post says.

(Photo: Malcolm Denemark/FLORIDA TODAY)

An estimated 375,000 gallons of raw sewage leaked from a corroded pipe near the Cassia Boulevard canal. (Photo: Malcolm Denemark/FLORIDA TODAY)

The canal flows south between Island View Drive and Lansing Island Drive to Venetian Way and is linked with a larger canal that flows to the Banana River. Reverse notifications are being sent to the homes affected on the canals, the post says. 

Residents along these canals are advised to not to swim, fish, wade in the affected canals and to keep pets away from the water, until further notice. 

City officials say they would keep residents updated regarding the school crossings in the area. 

The leak lasted an estimated five hours before crews were able to stop it, Walker said, and that section of pipe is expected to be fixed by late Friday afternoon (Feb. 2, 2018).

Of the estimated 375,000 gallons of sewage leaked, some of it seeped through a storm drain into the canal, Walker said in his statement.

More: Stench from Hurricane Irma shines a light on sewage problems

"An estimated 20,000 gallons has been captured and transported by pumper trucks to the South-Central Wastewater Treatment Plant in Viera," he added. 

"This area of pipe was replaced 30 years ago, and has a 90-year life expectancy, but defects do occur on occasion (the last time in this area was five years ago.)," Walker said.

Some sewage seeped into the ground, and efforts are ongoing to capture as much as possible, Walker added.

Rep. Randy Fine, R-Brevard County, blasted county officials on his Facebook page Friday, blaming them for not prioritizing infrastructure spending. Fine has proposed a bill this legislative session to enable counties to use tourism tax dollars for sewer and other infrastructure improvements, to protect coastal waters such as the Indian River Lagoon.

"Can’t blame ‘rain’ this time," Fine posted Friday. "Help me demand the politicians stop wasting our money on special interest giveaways and start doing their jobs by hitting the ‘angry’ button." Fine posted.

Brevard officials said Hurricane Irma this past fall renewed the county's resolve to fix aged sewer infrastructure.

"While this incident today is not Hurricane Irma-related, the storm back in September did bring to light the need for the county to take emergency steps to make sewer line improvements along beachside sooner than later," Walker said.

More: Titusville break leaks 14,000 gallons of sewage into Indian River Lagoon

(Photo: TIM SHORTT/FLORIDA TODAY)​​​​​​​

Jim Helmer, utility services director, explains the county's sewage challenges, from a conference room at the Brevard County Utility Services Department, at the government complex in Viera. 

The county is putting renewed focus on this area of the sewage system, as part of a 10-year, $134 million utility upgrade approved by county commissioners, Walker added.

More than a mile of sewer line currently is being replaced in the South Patrick area, and the $3.5 million replacement is expected to be completed by the end of May.

Smoke testing sewer pipes for leaks also is planned in the coming weeks in a partnership with Satellite Beach. Notices are expected to go out to residents soon with testing to conducted between March and June, Walker said.

For information you may contact Brevard County Utility Services Department at 321-633-2093.