Legislature Budgets Longboat Key Sewer Upgrade

Todays News

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING THURSDAY APR 29, 2021

Piney Point isn’t the only environmental incident in the region that has earned the attention of Tallahassee. After a Longboat Key sewer main burst last year dumped 11 million gallons of sewage into Sarasota Bay, the Florida Legislature has budgeted $1.25 million to fix the problem.

The money will be matched by an equal $1.25 million in local dollars. State Rep. Will Robinson, R-Bradenton, said it’s an important state priority to protect area water bodies.

“This funding will provide some of the resources to allow a duplicate sewer line to be constructed to avoid another environmental disaster in Sarasota Bay like we had last year,” he said.

In an appropriations request filed by Robinson, he said he will likely need to come back over the next three years and seek more funding, This money specifically will be used for condition assessment, design and other related costs associated with replacing the 20-inch wastewater force main located between the key and Manatee County. The existing force main was constructed back in 1973. And only has a life expectancy of 50 years, meaning it should be replaced two years from now at the latest. Project planning and environmental permitting are already underway.

The frailty of the system was exposed on June 29, when a sewage leak was discovered within the mangrove fringe along the east side of the main in Manatee County, approximately 400 feet from Sarasota Bay.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection last year ordered the Town of Longboat Key to pay a $262,000 fine or provide a greater level of in-kind environmental enhancement on the wastewater system. The state will also monitor improvements.

The project was among significant environmental spending approved in the state budget including $250,000 for flood prevention improvements in Holmes Beach and $50,000 for a watershed restoration project in Dona Bay.

Lawmakers on Friday expect to conclude the 60-day legislative session. At that point, they must focus on advocacy and hope Gov. Ron DeSantis’ veto pen leaves funding in tact. This spending, though, may be safer than most as DeSantis has made water quality spending a priority of his administration.

Image from Pixabay

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