1.2 million gallons of wastewater spills into Sweetwater Creek

Mechanical malfunction to blame for spillage

In this Feb. 17, 2012 file photo, the Niagara Falls Wastewater Treatment Plant is shown in Niagara Falls, N.Y. (AP Photo/David Duprey, File)

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Mechanical malfunctions caused 1.2 million gallons of wastewater to spill into Sweetwater Creek near Wekiva Springs from Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, according to Utilities Inc. of Florida.

The sanitary sewer overflow lasted for about seven hours, from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m.

Utility officials said the mechanical malfunctions occurred in two components designed to remove debris from water before it's treated. The error caused the tank to overflow into Sweetwater Creek.

"We have made temporary modifications to prevent another spill and are taking the necessary steps to make the changes permanent. Again, we apologize and are devoting our full efforts to assure the proper steps are taken to prevent a repeat of this incident," Utilities, Inc. of Florida officials said in a news release.

Cleanup is underway at the site.

The Florida Department of Environment Protection and the Florida Department of Health have been notified of the wastewater spill.

Water samples have been tested to determine bacteria levels, and testing will continue in the coming days.

According to the Florida Department of Health, contact with water that's been contaminated with waste can cause gastrointestinal issues and other conditions. Residents are asked to avoid contact with the water, including swimming, fishing and irrigation, until tests come back free of fecal bacteria.

Anyone who does come in contact with water from the creek is urged to wash thoroughly, especially before eating or drinking.

For more information about the health effects of wastewater overflow, call DOH of Seminole County at 407-665-3627 or visit www.FloridaHealth.gov. For information about environmental impacts, call the Department of Environmental Protection at 407-897-4100.

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