Sewage issues concern Polk County residents

Polk County sees another overflow because of stormwater, and it may be part of a pattern.

Hundreds of thousands of gallons of wastewater have come up from Polk County’s sewage system so far this year, including about 12,000 gallons from two separate incidents Monday.

10News first told you Monday about a power outage at a lift station in Lakeland during Tropical Storm Emily. It resulted in 10,000 gallons of sewage spewing out of it and possibly making its way into a nearby creek.

We’ve since learned about another incident Monday. About 1,800 gallons of wastewater bubbled up from a manhole on Paddington Lane in north Lakeland. It might’ve ended up in a pond in the neighborhood. The county could not say whether the storm was to blame.

“I’m bummed that that happened,” Damaris Randolph, who lives there, said. “I had no idea.”

The county has reported at least three other incidents to the DEP this year, in which more than 250,000 gallons of sewage spilled. Jake Rohrich, the utilities operations and maintenance manager, insisted there’s no widespread issue with the county’s sewage system.

“Mistakes are made, but we're there day and night,” he said. “Nobody hesitates to be out there in the rain ever.”

He said the problems aren’t anything out of the ordinary, but DEP reports indicate some of them had an impact on the environment. Rohrich said they’re always looking for ways to improve the system.

They’re testing the water near the lift station that had a power outage, and trying to figure out a way to prevent that from happening again. Although only some of the lift station in the county have backup generators on them, he said they might add one to the lift station in question.

Several people also told 10News the county didn’t tell them about the sewage issues near their homes. The county said they're looking into a better way to let people know about a problem in their area.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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