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7.2 million gallon sewer leak called "Perfect Storm"

Updated: Jan 15

On December 16th, 2020, William Klein posted photos, pictured below, of thousands of dead fish floating in a pond at Sand Point Park.


On December 19th, 2021, the City of Titusville Water Resources Department filed a Public Notice of Pollution incident report with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, (DEP), stating that a leak was detected in a sanitary force main pipe and that 100,000 gallons of sanitary wastewater had already leaked into the pond and that the leak was ongoing.


In an email to Florida DEP on January 4th, Water Resources Director Sean Stauffer stated, "Titusville has been able to contain the majority of the discharge from the spill in the stormwater pond in which the sewer main was located and in a nearby stormwater pond by constructing an earthen dam, thereby minimizing the impact to the Indian River Lagoon.”


He also stated in the email that “an estimated 7.2 million gallons of wastewater was discharged during this event"


THE PIPE

The pipe that failed was located 11 ft underneath the stormwater retention pond. Covering the pipe was also a concrete slab 55ft long, 7ft wide and anywhere from 1-3ft thick.



City of Titusville Water Resources Department Field Operations Superintendent Jeff Wayner said it was the worst pipe break he’s seen in his 30 years of working for municipalities, calling it “the perfect storm”, due to the pipe location underneath the pond and under a concrete slab.


The leaking pipe, which was later determined to have been installed in 1998, City staff started working on a bypass for the broken pipe.


THE REPAIR

Jeff Waymer stated the preparation was the hardest part of the job, with groundwater seeping into the hole and the hazard of the pond flooding the hole.

Jeff Waymer stated during the City Council Special Meeting on Tuesday that they had to shutdown 8 lift stations to give workers a 6-hour window to cut make 4 cuts to the old pipe, cap it off and connect a new bypass pipe.

Below is a video that shows City workers blocking off the section of the pond where the pipe was located, using a vacuum truck to remove pond water and muck coming through the road plates and plywood that were used to create a somewhat-dry area so workers could repair the broken pipe.

REPAIR TIMELINE

Below is the timeline of events of City Workers from the fish kill to the repair of the pipe

CAUSE OF THE LEAK

The pipe that broke was installed in 1998 as part of a paving project that happened in downtown Titusville. Part of that project required that stormwater be installed and that is when the pond at Sand Point was created, which required the existing sewer main to be lowered beneath that new pond.

Due to the way that the concrete was poured, without any reinforcement, and the amount of concrete poured on top of the pipe, is ultimately what led to the pipe failing.


Water Resources Director Sean Stauffer said they will be inspecting other force main lines that may have been installed near ditches. No other force main lines are located under ponds.


During the Special City Council Meeting, Mayor Diesel asked City Staff to look into possible legal action against the concrete contractor, if they are still in business.



WATER QUALITY / TESTING

The City has been continually testing the ponds and the river before, during and after the repair of the pipe, at 4 different locations in the area.

The City continues to test the water. The testing itself takes 7-10 days to complete and certify testing results. The City will continue testing the area until water quality levels return to normal.

FUTURE LEAKS / RISK MITIGATION

City Staff is looking for any more force main lines that are under ponds or cross ditches. Staff found that no other force main lines are located underneath ponds, but there are lines that cross ditches, so City workers will soon start excavating those pipes to see if the same concrete problems exists

Overall, this sewer leak was the worst possible leak that could have happened. City Workers were out there on Christmas Eve morning working to fix this leak as soon as humanly possible.


I want to send a HUGE Thank You to those people !!!!

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