Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Breaking News hitting the proverbial fan

Sarasota County has repeatedly discharged excess reclaimed water from the Bee Ridge Wastewater Treatment Facility to surface waters in the Phillippi Creek watershed since at least 2013, according to the Sarasota Herald Tribune (Wed. 3.20.19).

Other waterways have been impacted, including Cow Pen Slough, Dona Bay, and Sarasota Bay. Sarasota is now facing a potential lawsuit from environmental advocates.

The letter from Suncoast Waterkeeper states:
"These spills have sent raw sewage streaming into streets, storm drains and/or adjacent surface waters, posing serious public health threats and creating a severe nuisance in exposing substantial numbers of people to raw sewage,” the letter states. “These spills have been caused by a variety of poor or inadequate system maintenance, operation, repair, replacement and rehabilitation practices."
According to the County’s own information, this direct discharge has occurred continuously since Dec. 12, 2018 at an average rate of between 2.5 million and 3 million gallons each day, with an average nitrogen concentration of 17.9 milligrams per Liter. That concentration is more than ten times the state's maximum acceptable limit of 1.65 mg per Liter.

Dead fish on Sarasota beaches in 2018-19
The resulting nitrogen load from this extended “event” is over 33,000 pounds -- virtually the same magnitude as the County's 2016 estimate for all of the septic systems in the Phillippi Creek watershed for an entire year.

According to stormwater experts, this is a serious matter, and does real damage to the County’s reputation and credibility. Given the scientific evidence that nitrogen is a key fuel source for red tide, it is not acceptable that this has been occurring since 2013. While all the while Sarasota County Government has touted to the public its commitment to water quality. Someone needs to be held accountable.

The Suncoast Waterkeeper has identified this long term and blatant violation and sent a Notice of Intent to File Suit under the Clean Water Act to Sarasota County on Feb. 20, 2019. We fully support their efforts as someone needs to be looking out for the best interest of the County’s residents.

Herald Tribune story

Suncoast Waterkeeper Notice of Intent

Suncoast Waterkeeper

Bee Ridge Water Treatment Plant
(courtesy Sarasota Herald Tribune)


  1. as an older resident here ( there are a few of us) I have not gone in the water at the beach for the last 35 years, after learning about all the sewage this county dumps in the water, the county just pays the fine, and raises the property taxes

  2. That's disheartening - so this indifference to the actual job of governance is not new, eh?