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Consultant: No bacterial impact from LBK sewage spill

Longboat Key’s consultant says it found “no evidence of even a short-term impact of the sewage leak on bacteria levels in Sarasota Bay.”

The spill from Longboat Key’s wastewater pipeline began June 17 on the mainland and continued until June 30, when crews cleared a path through a mangrove forest on undeveloped land at Long Bar Pointe to make repairs. First estimates were that 26-million gallons of raw sewage spilled near the shore, but in August the estimate was revised down to 17-million gallons.

Longboat Key hired Environmental Science Associates to analyze the impact.

In a final report released Aug. 21 on bacterial levels in the bay, ESA said water sampling July 1-30 showed:

Enterococci bacterial levels were never above the relevant regulatory threshold.

Levels of fecal coliform bacteria in the waters nearest the leak exceed regulatory limits on two sampling dates but not the first three dates.

“Sophisticated genetic analyses” did not find evidence human waste was the source of the bacteria nearest the leak.

The town said “forensic evaluations into the cause and extent of the force main leak are ongoing.”

The town provided ESA’s findings to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which as of Aug. 21 had not announced any penalties or ordered mitigation for the spill.

Meanwhile, environmental groups continue to monitor the spill and scrutinize the investigation, as well as warn about water quality in the region.