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Longboat Key pipe may have dumped 28 million gallons of sewage into Sarasota Bay

It’s unclear what effect the rupture of Longboat’s central sewer pipe will have on water quality ahead of the Independence Day weekend, environmentalists say.

LONGBOAT KEY — Left unaddressed for nearly two weeks, a leak from a Longboat Key sewage pipe spilled an estimated 26 to 28 million gallons of sewage into Sarasota Bay from the town’s aging sewage line, a Florida Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman said.

The DEP will investigate the spill and hold Longboat Key “accountable by identifying necessary restoration and remediation actions,” agency spokeswoman Shannon Herbon said in an email response shared by the environmental group Suncoast Waterkeeper.

That includes fines and penalties for the violations.

In a press release on Wednesday afternoon [July 1st], Town Manager Tom Harmer cited a much lower volume of sewage spilled, putting the estimate at 2.58 million gallons, and a much later date for the pipe rupture than the DEP, saying the town notified the state of the spill Monday, when he said the public works director learned of it. He added that the “amount of the discharge is still being quantified.”

Harmer also made reference to potential signs of earlier problems, saying “staff believed there may have been meter and equipment issues causing anomalous flow readings,” though they didn’t “determine there was an actual leak in the pipeline” until Monday.