Sarasota fixes pipes in wake of rainstorms - WRBL

Sarasota fixes pipes in wake of rainstorms

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Last week when floodwaters inundated the city of Sarasota, the city grappled with a big problem, sewage backup.

The rainwater overwhelmed the waste water treatment plant, and sewage leaked into the streets.

Crews went to work on Monday to prevent that from happening again.

As the pounding rain fell down on Sarasota, something unsettling came up, wastewater.

Apparently the deluge was too much to handle for the city's wastewater treatment plant.

There were even a few reported manhole covers that were leaking with waste water because of the pressure.

The sewer pipes that carry Sarasota’s household waste are around 60 years old.

When the pipes were built, they were made with the best materials of that day.

But the years have worn on the pipes, and along with that they were damaged by years of exposure to hydrogen sulfide.

Officials say that’s a gas caused by waste flowing through the sewer pipes.

These cracks in these pipes led to rainwater leaking in and swamping the system.

With the system swamped, wastewater backed up into the streets.

And that's why the county utility department is getting to work.

Alex Hernandez with the Sarasota Utilities Department said, "What we're gonna see is a reduction of wastewater going to the wastewater treatment plant."

Hernandez’s crew is relining the sewer pipes at Lido Key.

The workers start by stuffing a resin bag into the pipe, then filling it with hot water to expand. After the resin hardens, it fills in all the cracks.

It's like a new pipe within a pipe.

Hernandez said, "Now you've got a totally sealed pipe, restore the integrity, sealed it up."

Robots are used to inspect the new pipe and cut out holes leading to houses.

Officials say the new resin pipes can last for 50 years, and can handle the hydrogen sulfide gases.

Hernandez said, "It's sort of like the resin used in boat manufacturing, and there's not much that's gonna eat away at that."

The city of Sarasota has started relining pipes on coastal areas.

So along with Lido Key, crews are doing work at Siesta Key.

Officials hope to do more service throughout the city in the future.

At $2 million, this Lido Key project is a lot cheaper than digging up the pipes and replacing them.

And if all works according to plan, the next time Sarasota is hit by a rainstorm, the wastewater plant won't be overloaded.

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