BRADENTON -- The Florida Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Protection asked the city Thursday to expand its water quality tests in the Manatee River to include levels of dissolved oxygen and conductivity, as well as the organisms already included in the testing, in the wake of a sewage spill earlier this week.
Seth Kohn, an engineer with the city, said that he expects the results to be delivered early this morning in order to get the complete results. The city took 15 water samples from the river Tuesday to test for enterococci and fecal cholorform.
In the meantime, waste- water treatment plant employees were working on a permanent repair by re- routing the pipe that broke Tuesday so that it is in a better position as it comes into the treatment plant, “so that nothing like this will ever happen again,” Kohn said.
A 30-inch pipe going into the water treatment plant ruptured Tuesday, creating a geyser of sewage that got into storm drains, dumping about 3.5 million gallons of wastewater into the Manatee River. It took workers about 13 hours to staunch the flow of sewage.
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The city has posted signs along the water in the downtown area warning people not to fish, swim or jet ski.
Claude Tankersley, director of public works and utilities, told the city council Wednesday that he expects to be able to remove the signs by Monday.
While employees continue to work on repairs, Kohn said he does not yet have a time line or cost estimate for the project.
“A lot of it is a function of parts availability,” Kohn said.
The plant is back online, even though it is not operating at 100 percent capacity.
Kohn said the wastewater treatment plant will not be back to full capacity until the pipe that ruptured is replaced. Still, he said, that doesn’t hurt anything.
“There is no more raw sewage or anything of any detriment going into the Manatee River,” he added.
Kohn did urge people to be aware of their water use while the repairs continue, even though there is no danger or even concern about the plant’s capacity.
“The more they can conserve on water use, the better off we’ll be,” Kohn said. “The flows are kind of low and we haven’t been getting any rain. Just conserve a little bit. People should do that anyway to conserve drinking water.”