July 16, 2012
One million gallons of excess storm water was pumped into the St. Mark's National Wildlife Refuge Area last week. More water was also pumped into a neighborhood that borders that area. It's what was in that water that has some residents concerned.
"The manhole cover,right back there in my mother-in-laws driveway, was blowing water anywhere from eight inches to a foot up out and around the lid and raw sewage come out in her yard," said Calvin Robins, a Panacea resident.
Robins, and others who live off Otter Creek Road ,complained that The Wakulla County Department of Public Works was pumping contaminated water out of a manhole and into the ditches in front of their homes.
Ralph Thomas, a candidate for Wakulla County Commissioner, got out his video camera and recorded.
"As soon as you turned off of Highway 98 you could smell it. It was obvious what it was. I'm sure most of it was storm water but it was still dirty. It was still coming out of the sewer systems," said Thomas.
Thomas was told by Public Works that pumping was necessary because the sewer system was overwhelmed following Tropical Storm Debby. They said they had notified the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the pumping had been approved for both the neighborhood and the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge.
Thomas filed a complaint with DEP. In their response they said they had indeed been notified and authorized the disposal.
"I'd like to know that we can find a better way to deal with this in the future," said Thomas.
"If you drove down this road with your windows up or down, you'd still smell it," said Robins.
The Florida DEP said they are still investigating this matter.