Water-Related News

FDEP amends consent order to Charlotte County in wake of wastewater issues

CHARLOTTE COUNTY – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has issued an amended consent order to Charlotte County that supersedes the original consent order executed on March 15, 2018, after the sanitary sewer overflows associated with Hurricane Irma.

The consent order is in response to several recent FDEP concerns including,

  • Unauthorized discharges/sanitary sewer overflows from March 15, 2018, through June 30, 2020, from wastewater collection systems, water reclamation facilities, or the reclaimed system
  • Anomalies associated with monitoring wells at the East Port and Burnt Store Water Reclamation Facility
  • Effluent sample results from East Port and Burnt Store WRF

Charlotte County has been directed to take corrective actions of installing generators at 10 lift stations and purchasing eight portable generators which will be funded by a FEMA grant. Completion of the Loveland Master Lift Station project, which is scheduled to be completed by fall 2021 and completion of sewer force main replacements for Coliseum, which is complete and Deep Creek, which is scheduled to be completed by fall 2021. Additional corrective action taken over the past two years includes replacement of the Forest Nelson Boulevard sewer force main, and the ongoing work on Olean Boulevard. The county will be electing to complete an in-kind project of the Quesada sewer force main replacement rather than a fine of $138,531.36. The Quesada sewer force main unexpectedly broke twice this summer. Due to these breaks, the utility was working on a replacement plan when the consent order was delivered. The list of required corrective actions must be completed on or before Dec. 31, 2024.

“Water quality is a top priority for the county and the goal is to have zero spills of wastewater and reclaimed water. Unfortunately, due to the size and age of the system along with influences outside our control, spills are sometimes unavoidable,” said Utilities Department Director Craig Rudy. “Each spill is unique, and the department evaluates each one to determine the cause. Charlotte County Utilities is proactive in replacing aging equipment, and this year’s replacement program is budgeted for $17 million dollars. Additionally, the utility continues to look for areas to improve and train staff to reduce the overall spills. Staff is already investigating the other FDEP concerns at our water reclamation facilities.”

Of the 103 unauthorized discharges/sanitary sewer overflows during the 27-month period, 92 were wastewater and 11 reclaimed. Additional analysis shows that 27% were due to contractor error, 25% were due to infrastructure failure such as a main line break due to age or deterioration, 14% were caused by vehicles, 14% were due to electrical component failure and the remaining 20% includes less frequent causes. “Contractor error is our top source of spills and staff has begun researching how to hold these contractors liable,” said Rudy. “The county continues to work with FDEP and will provide quarterly status reports until Dec. 2024.”