Nearly 24 hours after Siesta Key sewage spill, officials issue health warning

Almost 24 hours after 36,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled into the Grand Canal that feeds the Gulf of Mexico at Siesta Key, the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota has issued a water quality advisory.

The DOH issued the release at about 4:20 p.m. on July 10, 23 hours after the spill was contained on the afternoon of July 9.

“People are urged to take precautions when in contact with the waters of Grand Canal,” the press release states. “Sarasota County utilities will be conducting water testing in Grand Canal at locations upstream and downstream of the spill location. Water testing will continue until bacterial levels return to normal.”

Health officials warn that, “water contaminated with wastewater overflow presents several health risks to humans. Untreated human sewage with microbes could cause gastrointestinal issues and other conditions.”

Anyone who has come into contact with the waters associated with the Grand Canal should wash thoroughly, especially before eating and drinking. Children and older adults, as well as people with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to disease, so every precaution should be taken if in contact with the waters of the Grand Canal, officials said.

For more information about the potential health effects of wastewater overflow, contact DOH Sarasota at 941-861-6133.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued a report on July 9 detailing the spill.

“The Lockwood Ridge booster station designed to relieve the high force main pressure from the Siesta Key Master Lift Station failed, resulting in the master station spilling approximately 36,000 gallons into the Grand Canal” the DEP report states.

According to the Sarasota County water atlas website, the Grand Canal is a 10-mile long network of shallow canals that provide an extensive waterfront to residential areas for boat access into Roberts Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

Breaking News/Real Time Reporter Mark Young began his career in 1996 and has been with the Bradenton Herald since 2014. He has won more than a dozen awards over the years, including the coveted Lucy Morgan Award for In-Depth Reporting from the Florida Press Club and for beat reporting from the Society for Professional Journalists to name a few. His reporting experience is as diverse as the communities he covers.
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