|Published:||Feb 24, 2014 3:33 PM EST|
|Updated:||Feb 25, 2014 4:57 PM EST|
FORT MYERS, Fla. - September 23rd and 24th of last year, Southwest Florida was pounded by two days of recording breaking rainfall. More than eight inches fell, according to the WINK gauge.
The rain caused flooding in neighborhoods around Fort Myers.
But what you probably didn't know is that the rain caused seven and a half million gallons of treated sewage to over flow.
In the last five years, more than 30 million gallons of treated and untreated sewage has either spilled or been dumped in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties. That's enough to fill 445,000 football fields with waste a foot deep.
WINK News Call for action dug through five years worth of data from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (see the data for yourself by clicking here).
"Depending on where it went, how much it spilled, there are times that we will issue a no fish no swim advisory," said Patty DiPiero with Lee County Utilities.
There are a lot of things that can cause a wastewater spill. A pipe may burst, a contractor may break the lines or, as was the case in September of 2013, we may have excessive rainfall.
In order to discharge sewage, utility companies must have a proper permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The companies are also required to report any spill greater than a thousand gallons.
"Our average response time to when we can get someone there is usually 10 to 15 minutes, where we have at least one person on site to assess the situation," said DiPiero.
In the last five years, LCU has reported more than a half million gallons in spills. Most of those were caused by pipe break or a contractor's mistake.
To read more on LCU's wastewater spill prevention plan click here.