TITUSVILLE, FL - (January 22, 2021) – Titusville’s Water Resources Director Sean Stauffer and Field Operations Superintendent Jeff Wayner provided Titusville’s City Council and residents with a formal presentation on the Sand Point Park sewer main leak at the Special City Council meeting held on Tuesday, January 12.
Crews repairing the break in the force main, which was noted as the most complex sewer system repair made by the City in the last twenty years, encountered many challenges including working in a dangerous underwater location, finding repair materials, facing time pressures due to flow from contributing lift stations, and working with a concrete slab covering the pipe. Both the City’s Field Operations crews and the emergency contractor’s crews exhibited the highest level of professional expertise and diligence in effecting the repair under adverse conditions.
According to Stauffer, the sewer pipe was installed and the stormwater pond was created in 1998 as part of paving project. At that time a concrete slab was installed over the pipe to protect it during pond cleanings. The plans for the project show that the City’s construction detail called for a 6-foot wide, 6-inch thick precast concrete slab to be installed over the pipe with 18 inches of soil between the slab and the pipe. Wayner explained that what was found during the repair was that the concrete slab had been poured directly over the pipe and that it was 55 feet in length and had a width of 7 feet and varied in thickness from 1 to 3 feet.
There was significantly more concrete on the pipe than there should have been explained Stauffer. “We have concluded that it was the weight of the concrete itself that caused the pipe to fail….The pipe was only about halfway through its lifespan and was in really good shape.” said Stauffer.
In describing the weight of the concrete, Wayner noted, It “…probably pushed one of the joints opened which meant the break started as a little leak. It was blowing down, and as the weight pushed down and the water was getting turbid and getting disturbed underneath that concrete “u”, it dug a hole and that meant less of the pond bottom to support the pipe and it kept pushing, pushing until it was a complete failure.”
Titusville has been able to keep the majority of the discharge from the spill in the stormwater pond in which the sewer main was located and in a nearby stormwater pond. An estimated 7.2 million gallons of wastewater was discharged during the event and 2,360,400 gallons of contaminated water from the ponds has been recovered and sent to the City’s Blue Heron Water Reclamation Facility for treatment. The construction of an earthen dam early in the event worked to contain the contaminated water and, thereby, minimize the impact to the Indian River Lagoon.
Clean-up efforts will continue until water quality in the ponds returns to normal. Four sampling points have been established to monitor water quality. Results from the sampling will be posted on the City’s website later this week. Aeration systems have been installed in both the Sand Point Park stormwater treatment ponds and in Space View Park’s stormwater pond to accelerate the cleansing process provided by these ponds. Signs informing residents of the presence of bacteria in the water remain posted at the ponds.
Titusville’s risk mitigation strategy for leaks of this kind includes assessing all of the force main stream/canal crossings in its wastewater system, as well as developing additional monitoring systems. Titusville continues to work with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to minimize any detrimental effects to the area. A video of the meeting is available on the City of Titusville’s YouTube channel.