Nearly 1 million gallons of sewage leak into Indian River Lagoon

Titusville officials say old force main was not properly abandoned

Indian River Lagoon. Photo by Tim Shortt, Florida Today.
Indian River Lagoon. Photo by Tim Shortt, Florida Today. (Tim Shortt, Florida Today)

TITUSVILLE, Fla. – Nearly 1 million gallons of sewage leaked into the Indian River Lagoon in Titusville after an old force main had not been "properly abandoned" 40 years ago, officials said.

The city of Titusville said it became aware Monday that wastewater was leaking into the lagoon behind one of its lift stations on Indian River Avenue. The flow was stopped about three hours later, city officials said.

"It was determined that an old force main, which was abandoned and replaced almost 40 years ago, had not been properly abandoned. A portion of the old main remained active and had ruptured, causing sewage to flow into the lagoon," according to a news release issued by the city.

An estimated 870,000 gallons of sewage entered the Indian River Lagoon as a result of the incident, officials said. Titusville does not use the Indian River Lagoon as a source for drinking water.   

Crews shut down and properly abandoned the damaged line, and the area was cleaned and disinfected, officials said.

It's not known how long sewage had been leaking into the lagoon. 

According to Sean Stauffer, Titusville Water Resources Director, although regulations did not require the city to issue a news release regarding the leak, Titusville did so to inform citizens.

“The lagoon is a big focus for everyone in Brevard County,” Stauffer said. “We want our residents to know when any incident occurs that could affect the lagoon.”

Stauffer noted that the leak occurred in one of the oldest sections of the utility’s system.

“Repairing and replacing infrastructure is one of the biggest expenses for a utility. Florida’s coastal soils are very hard on pipes, concrete, and other parts of the infrastructure, so it’s a never-ending process to keep things repaired," Stauffer said.

The discharge was reported to the Florida State Department of Environmental Protection.


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