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Three sewage spills reported in Hernando after Hurricane Hermine

Published Sep. 14, 2016

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County has not been immune to the problems in the Tampa Bay area with overextended wastewater treatment plants spilling untreated sewage in recent weeks.

Three wastewater facilities in Hernando reported spills hours after Hurricane Hermine made landfall in the Panhandle, though the spills were much smaller than those in Pasco and Pinellas counties.

In Brooksville, a spill of 42,000 gallons was reported by city workers to the state Department of Environmental Protection from the Cortez Pump Station. The sewage flowed out of the station into surrounding surface waters, including Horse Lake and Bonnie Lake south of Brooksville, said city public works director Richard Radacky.

City workers shut off pumps in the station, which serves southwest Brooksville, before dawn on Sept. 2 after several feet of water inundated the building, threatening to cause electric shocks.

Radacky said that after more than 10 inches of rain was reported over several days during the storm, there was just too much to handle for the pump station and the aging pipes that comprise a collection system that's often infiltrated by storm water.

Two spills in western Hernando County were reported early that afternoon. One was in Hernando Beach near Hermosa and Shoal Line boulevards and the other in the Weeki Wachee area near Shoal Line Boulevard and Tropical Drive. Those spills were 36,000 gallons and 6,000 gallons, respectively.

High water from the tidal surge flooded roads and houses in those areas.

"The combination of a loss of commercial power along with the inundation of coastal storm surge and storm water into the sanitary sewer system caused the incidents,'' said county spokeswoman Virginia Singer.

In all three instances, utility workers reported to the DEP that lime was applied and the affected areas were cleaned. Neither city nor county officials anticipated that there would be any additional contact with the state regarding the spills.