Thanks to Irma, Florida is now a literal pile of poop

Millions of gallons of raw sewage have overflowed into the streets and waterways of Florida, thanks to the stress of Hurricane Irma on an aging and inadequate infrastructure.

More than 200 reports of sewage spills have been submitted to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, ranging from a few hundred gallons to multimillions of gallons.

Miami was worst hit, with one spill sending 6 million gallons of sewage into Biscayne Bay. But Central Florida was not spared. A story published Thursday on the New Republic said, "In Seminole County, north of Orlando, a sewer overflowed for six hours, spilling two million gallons," though Seminole County utilities manager Mike Riley told Orlando Weekly, "Seminole County did experience sewage spills through the storm event, but not of that magnitude." (He added that to his knowledge, all of the sewer spills within Seminole County are contained.)

Just a few other local examples (quoted from reports filed on the Florida Department of Environmental Protection website):
  • At 1650 N. Mills Ave., Orlando: "On 09-12-2017, the private lift station located at the Gallery at Mills Park experienced pump failure for both pumps in the wet well. An overflow occurred and 15,000 gallons of sewer were released from the station to the surrounding area."
  • At 7302 Silver Star Road, Orlando: "Due to a power outage caused by hurricane Irma, this pump station overflowed on 9-13-17. Over 1,000 gallons discharged to paved surface, entered the road drainage system, and to a densely wooded, dry storm water retention area."
  • At 703 Doss Ave., Orlando: "Due to a power outage caused by hurricane Irma, this pump station overflowed on 9-13-17. Approximately 4,500-5,000 gallons discharged to paved surface, unpaved surface, and a nearby Public Works drainage canal."
  • At the intersection of East Marks Street and North Eola Drive, Orlando: "On 09-17-2017, a seal on an Air Release Valve for a public sanitary sewer force main failed. Sanitary sewer began spraying from the device and filled the compartment it is housed within. 5,000 gallons of sanitary sewer overflowed to the surrounding area."
In all of the above cases, city crews are working to recover waste effluent and sanitize the area. But if you have received a boil order in your neighborhood – or maybe even if you haven't – be sure to boil tap water before consuming it.

In one Oviedo neighborhood, raw sewage is bubbling up from the ground and from manhole covers. ClickOrlando obtained video from resident Patty Spicuzza showing human waste rising from the earth and flowing through her yard. In the case of this spill, they report, it wasn't Irma but human error that caused the mess: "Seminole County Commission Chairman John Horan told News 6 the sewage backup was caused by a valve not being opened in a pipe that connects the Carillon subdivision to the Iron Bridge Water Treatment Plant."

Talk about a shitstorm.


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Jessica Bryce Young

Jessica Bryce Young has been working with Orlando Weekly since 2003, serving as copy editor, dining editor and arts editor before becoming editor in chief in 2016.
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