In wake of sewage fiasco, county puts $12M into updates

Brevard County utilities officials hope a $12 million series of updates to the South Beaches’ sewer system will prevent a repeat of last fall, when they released 22 million gallons of treated sewage into the Indian River Lagoon as Hurricane Irma overwhelmed the system.

County commissioners on March 20 ratified an agreement with the state Department of Environmental Protection to complete most of the updates by April 2019 or face fines of $14,237 plus $100 for each day they’re late – or up to $10,000 a day if the DEP has to take the county to court.

County Manager Frank Abbate said the county is already conducting the three specified updates:

  •  Replacing the North Riverside Drive force main, a 3.5-mile pipe from East Eau Gallie Boulevard south to Oakland Avenue in Indialantic. The county has until Dec. 31, 2020, for this job, the priciest one of the three, at an estimated $10 million.
  •  Rehabilitating the South Beaches sewage-collection system. The job, estimated at $1.9 million, started on Oct. 22, 2017, and must be finished by April 30, 2019.
  •  Assessing the leaks in the existing residential pipes, using a smoke-like vapor, and presenting the findings and recommendations to the commission and the DEP. The project, estimated at $185,000, has started within the city of Satellite Beach and has until April 30, 2019, to be complete.

“The projects in this agreement are the same ones the board (of commissioners) has already approved,” County Commissioner John Tobia said.

Tobia, of Palm Bay, represents the commission’s District 3, which includes the South Beaches area.

“The agreements call for additional oversight, which we welcome,” he added.

And the DEP’s consent order allows the county to avoid paying fines for late completion by undertaking additional projects. Those jobs, however, would need to be approved first by the DEP.

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