Sewage spill prompts health alert at popular lake

Officials warn community about disposing cooking grease

ORLANDO, Fla. - Lake Baldwin has been deemed safe to swim in after 50 gallons of sewage backed up spilled into the lake, officials say.

The popular lake is located near Orlando's Baldwin Park neighborhood, between Semoran Boulevard and Lakemont Avenue. Fleet Peeples Park is right along the lake, where dog lovers often take their pets to splash in the water.

"Eww. Yeah, that's not good," said Robin Arndt, whose dog, Winston, was playing in the water right before Arndt found out about the spill.

Arndt said she brings Winston to Fleet Peeples dog park at least once a week. She didn't see the warning signs posted along the lake or know about the sewage spill until it was too late.

"Maybe put a sign up before we get all the way down here (by the lake) and the dog's in (the water)," said Arndt.

Winston wasn't alone. Local 6 spotted several other dogs, even a young girl, swimming in the lake as well as a fisherman out on a boat.

"It's pretty disgusting and I didn't know about it until (my dog) went into the water, so it was a little too late for me to do anything about it," said Lillian Friedman, who brings her dog to the park several times a week.

Orlando officials say the fifty gallons of sewage backed up late Monday night after cooking grease clogged a sewer line.

The back-up happened in the Baldwin Park neighborhood on Anissa Avenue, near the Upper Park Road intersection.

Officials said crews were able to pump out about 30 gallons of raw sewage, but the rest went into a storm drain. Although there is a filtration system in the storm water drain, the drain flows right into Lake Baldwin. The spill prompted city officials to issue an immediate lake alert.

City officials said the state recommends closing lakes when bacteria levels are above 400. Test results from Lake Baldwin that came back on Wednesday revealed a bacterial level of 34, but city officials decided to shut down the lake to swimming out of an abundance of caution.

City officials told Local 6 the lake is expected to reopen in a few days.

The city is asking residents to not dispose of cooking grease in drains. Instead, city officials recommend recycling used cooking oil.  By recycling used cooking oil, officials say Orlando residents can help prevent thousands of gallons of used cooking oil from clogging sewer systems and ending up in local landfills.

The following types of oils can be recycled:

  • Grease leftover from cooking of animal fats (i.e. bacon grease)
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Corn oil
  • Olive oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Canola oil (Rapeseed oil)
  • Lard

Cooking oil should be free of water, soap suds and food scraps, and should be transported in a clean, non-breakable, leak-proof container with a tight lid.

For a list of locations where you can dispose of cooking grease, visit the city of Orlando's website or call 407-246-2213.

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