Fecal Spill Near School Prompts Urgent $10 Million Spend Plan for Indian Harbour Beach after 20 Million Gallons released.

Brevard County Commissioners responded to beach side smell and toilet paper floating in Anchor Canal, Indian Harbour Beach.  Brevard County utilities department did well by immediately responding (i.e. not doing nothing) in response to the 20 Million gallon spill, partly due to water influx from hurricane IRMA.  Partly, not solely, because the emergency overflow plan, as stated at the 5 Dec Commissioner Board Meeting (pp205 – 231) is to allow overflow to go into the lagoon, when needed.  Further, the high road is for $134 Million to replace the pipes.  Instead, the low road was voted in; to repair a few pipes on basin 19 of 21 lift stations that feed the beachside plant; and to force, inspect, and prompt homeowners to repair their leaky pipes to reduce ‘influx and infiltration,’ which causes excess water to deluge the fecal treatment system.  Cost: $10 Million charged to rate users (tacked on to bills).

REFERENCE: Brevard County Commissioners Meeting, Notes, 5 Dec 2017, Accessed 17 Dec 2017  (BOD is biological oxygen demand, that is, oxygen required to mitigate other stuff in the water).

What was discharged into lagoon

Several other points of view were expressed, and I urge you to consider the complexity of the problem.

  1. Marine Research Counsel (www.mrcirl.org) expressed that this is only one of over 60 spills in Brevard County, that go into the Lagoon.
    • This knee jerk reaction does not address, and overshadows the massive Save Our Lagoon program.
  2. The Brevard County Wastewater team expressed that Brevard County does not process all the wastewater, but there are about 5 Municipalities that have processing plants.
    • They say the impact of this spill is minor in comparison to the plan to reduce phosphors and nitrogen overall, in the next 10 years.
    • They say that there was significant dilution, and so this spill, comparatively speaking, is not so bad as it may seem, but the new attention to the matter is welcomed to this complex problem and no spill is taken lightly.

My commentary: As expressed at the meeting, there is no consensus on how to control discharge into the Indian River Lagoon, and this is just a drop in the bucket.  The plan does reduce the total water that should be processed by this basin of the total (one of about 20 basins or legs that feed the plant).  However, it’s pretty much luck of the draw as to how/who/which area gets the overflow when the authorities make a decision that a spill must occur.

Furthermore, I wonder if the Florida Department of Environmental Protection will take to allowing non-report of releases/spills that the local authorities deem unavoidable and within the emergency plan.  I believe that reporting should be mandatory, regardless of the cause, for public safety; and also to move the public to save the Florida waterways.

Jim Waymer of Florida Today reports that in 1986, 46 plants discharged 55 million gallons daily into the lagoon, a practice ceased by law in 1996.

Final point,  note on the slide that the water was released from 10 Sep to 10 October.  The storm was over and power restored by about 20 September.  So how was this decision arrived at?  What were the alternatives, and what was the decision making process that this is/was the area that needed to have a spill/leak/release?

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