Haines City to pay more than $100,000 to fix aging sewer system linked to major spill

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is requiring Haines City to pay more than $100,000 to fix its aging sewer system. The penalty stems from a major spill.

"I think it’s a big deal," James Keene, the city’s Public Services Administrator, told FOX 13. "We want to guarantee that we don’t have that issue again."

Back in May, an underground line burst, and spit out more than a million gallons of sewage.

Some of it soaked into the soil, but most dumped into Lake Eva, one of city's most popular lakes, and the site of the Ironman Triathlon that happens every December.

"I called in multiple agencies, environmental agencies, and pump trucks from all over the area," said Keene.

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It took several days to even find the problem, because the city doesn’t have accurate maps that go back to the late 1920s, when the system was installed.

Even after the leak was identified, it took a few more days to make the repair, because it had to get approval from the Florida Department of Transportation, which owns the property where the break occurred.

Keene said the city notified several homeowners who live on the lake and were affected by the spill, but did not widely publicize the situation, so many residents are just finding out now.

Since the sewage is a potent fertilizer, it could have upset the ecosystem and possibly caused a fish kill. But Keene said that didn’t happen.