MANATEE - Raw sewage is expected to gush into the Manatee River just north of Rossi Waterfront Park until Tuesday evening from a fracture in a 30-inch diameter iron pipe in the headworks of the city of Bradenton’s wastewater treatment plant on 17th Avenue West.
The river is getting an out-flow of raw sewage because the storm water drains around the plant on 17th Avenue are now flooded with sewage and the stormwater pipes at the plant lead right to the river, said Seth Kohn, a city engineer.
As of 3 p.m. between 500,000 and 750,000 gallons of raw sewage have poured out of the fractured pipe.
During the emergency, the city has closed 17th Avenue West from First Street West to Fifth Street West.
At 5:30 p.m., a company was expected to arrive to install “line stops” that will reduce the flow to the broken pipe.
Raw sewage is also being pumped into tanks at that plant and will be stored until the pipe can be fixed.
City staff are not sure yet what caused the pipe, which is about 10 years old, to break.
“Because the flow is so strong, we can’t see the pipe yet,” Kohn said.
City officials are warning the public not to boat or fish in the Manatee River around Rossi Waterfront Park near the CST railroad bridge until further notice.
That caution certainly includes not to drink that water or eat fish caught there.
“We are advising the public not to do any recreational activities in that area, which should be obvious by a dark plume in the water,” Kohn said.
It is safe to drink city of Bradenton water during this emergency without a need to boil, said Tim McCann, a city of Bradenton spokesman.
“This leak has not impacted our drinking water in any way,” McCann said. “It has also not impacted any residential areas.”
Because the plant will still be open and taking raw sewage from city limits while the emergency workers try to fix the leak throughout the night, officials are asking Bradenton residents to limit water use.
That means shorter showers, turning off outside irrigation for tonight and waiting until tomorrow to run the dishwasher.
“If they can avoid a few flushes tonight, not run the dishwasher and limit the laundry, it will help us,” Kohn said.
The city is taking extraordinary steps to protect the orange, red and gray Bradenton Village townhouses right across the street from raw sewage by erecting a foot-tall dirt berm on 17th Avenue West from First Street West to Third Street West.
“We have accomplished our main mission which is to protect Bradenton Village and to begin the steps necessary to halt the leak,” said Claude Tankersley, director of Public Works & Utilities.
The emergency began at 11:30 a.m. today when the pipe broke apparently with no warning.
“Workers reported hearing no booms or any noise,” Kohn said.
Although the city has mobilized resources from several agencies to halt the leak, a roughly three-foot geyser of raw sewage was still spewing at 4 p.m. today and is expected to continue until tomorrow morning.