Canal water near station called clean

By Catherine E. Shoichet
Published June 22, 2007

A backup generator's battery failure sent 200, 000 gallons of sewage into an Apollo Beach canal earlier this month, according to a county investigation.

But two weeks after Tropical Storm Barry blew through Tampa Bay, officials say the canal water near the Miller Mac Road sewer lift station is clean.

Last week they removed signs advising people to stay out of the water.

Crews worked for more than five hours June 2 - the day the storm hit - to pump sewage out of a ditch next to the lift station and the nearby canal in the Symphony Isles development, Hillsborough County Water Resources Services spokeswoman Michelle Van Dyke said. They also spread lime on the ground to neutralize bacteria.

"We were helped greatly by the fact that the tide was incoming, " she said. "That actually brought a lot of it the sewage back up to that ditch."

Since then, scientists have analyzed water samples. Local drinking water supplies were not affected by the spill, she said.

An investigation by the county Environmental Protection Commission's water management division found that officials responded appropriately to the spill, according to Byron Bartlett, the agency's general manager.

"It was brand new equipment, " he said. "Sometimes bad things happen."

Construction crews are rebuilding and upgrading the lift station, which pumps sewage through pipes.

Van Dyke said officials determined that the contractor working on the upgrade project, Bhate Environmental, was responsible for the equipment failure during the storm.

This month's spill came less than a month after another spill from that lift station sent 20, 000 gallons of sewage into the canal.

County officials suspect that vandals caused that spill, Van Dyke said.

Catherine E. Shoichet can be reached at cshoichet@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2454.