NewsPolk County


DEP investigating Lake Wales sewage spill

Posted at 4:42 PM, Aug 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-19 18:05:23-04

LAKE WALES, Fla. -- It smells, it’s messy and each time it rains sewage streams down a Lake Wales and into Crooked Lake.

Neighbors tell ABC Action News the problem has been persistent for years and is now getting worse.

“Every morning come out to go to work it smells like sewage, come home it smells like sewage,” Daniel Johnson has only lived along Canal Drive for two years but has been visiting the area for more than a decade.

In all that time, Johnson remembers having to deal with the backup and says at one point the sewage system was even overhauled, yet he says they are still experiencing issues.

When ABC Action News arrived on Canal Drive Monday morning the stench was instant and it was hard not work around as manhole covers were overflowing with sewage and it was running like a small river down the pavement.

Pictures sent to us from viewers show toilet paper stuck to the pavement from the week earlier.

“I actually tried to cut the grass and got down to the end of the yard and started gagging so bad I had to go back in,” Dawn Dove says the smell is horrid but it is the least of her concerns.

After weeks of a heavy discharge, neighbors now tell ABC Action News they are concerned about the health of Crooked Lake which is just a couple of blocks from the spill.

Canals behind the homes are filling up with the discharge, and the canals lead directly to the lake.

“It’s going into the canal and people fish from that canal and take boat rides and they have children and animals,” Dove said.

ABC Action News warned The Department of Environment Protection (DEP). The DEP confirmed to us they are investigating the spill and sent us this statement:

“The Department of Environmental Protection is actively investigating Crooked Lake Park Sewerage Company due to recent sanitary sewer overflows occurring from the plant. Issues with the wastewater treatment plant and collection system began on August 2. Since that time, the department has been on site 5 different times verifying the discharges and requiring corrective actions to be implemented. Some of the corrective actions performed to date include: pumping wastewater from the lift stations and the treatment plant to be hauled to other facilities for treatment; improving and raising the berms of their treated effluent disposal pond to prevent additional overflows; and repairing a broken pipe in the collection system. The Department’s focus at this time is ensuring the discharge is ceased as quickly as possible. Once the system is back in compliance, the facility will be required to provide the department long-term plans for improving the facility and preventing future issues.
The Department’s investigation is on-going. DEP is committed to continue working to determine causes and possible solutions to stop any active releases and to prevent unauthorized discharges in the future.”

ABC Action News also contacted Crooked Lake Park Sewage, the company responsible for the sewage lines surrounding Canal Drive in Lake Wales, but they have not responded.

While we were at the sewage spill, utility trucks were there pumping out the sewage and a street sweeper was constantly going up and down the area sucking up the waste.

“You see all the trucks here but it seems like nothing is getting done you come out the next day and it’s the same thing,” Dove said.

But now, neighbors say they would like to see a more permanent fix.