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Sewage spill closes causeway beaches

BRADENTON — City employees have closed Palma Sola Causeway after about 1,000 gallons of sewage leaked into the water and ground area about 200 yards east of the boat ramp Wednesday.

The spill resulted from a force main break, said City Engineer Seth Kohn.

Workers used lime to disinfect the area of land where the spill happened. The water is expected to dilute the sewage in several days.

Until bacteria levels neutralize, swimmers could get infections if they swallow water or have open cuts, Kohn said.

As a precaution, signs were posted on both sides of the roadway to alert people not to swim in the water. People can still walk along the beaches, he said.

On Wednesday afternoon, after workers had left, several people failed to notice the signs reading, “Beach closed until further notice due to force main break.”

Kim Bateman, 36, was lying on a towel as her 15-year-old daughter and three dogs played in the water.

She called her daughter out after she learned of the break.

“There’s no sign saying not to enter the water. It doesn’t tell you in plain English,” she said reading the phrase, “force main.” “Now I have to take my dogs home and bathe them in antibacterial soap.”

As her dogs drew near to her she tried to keep them at a distance.

“Yeah, you guys have been swimming in a big toilet bowl. You’ve been swimming in poo poo,” she said.

She left the beach shortly after. So did several other people when they learned about the spill.

Workers will be taking samples daily to check the bacteria levels, Kohn said.

“I hope to have it open by the weekend, but I can’t guarantee it,” he said.

It remains unclear what caused the break.

“It’s hard to say,” Kohn said. “These types of things happen. Over time, all infrastructure has problems.”

Beth Burger, Herald reporter, can be reached at 708-7919.