The City of Winter Springs Public Works staff has been focused for the past few weeks on the debris clean-up No Name and Gee Creeks. The City is aware of the sediment build-up at the culverts on Alton Road and attempted to remove the sediment in-house but the cities equipment could not reach far enough into the creek bed. The City has since contracted a vendor to do so and they are scheduled to address this in late March/early April. They are doing the same for other areas throughout the City.
Once we receive formal notification from NRCS of our funding for the larger debris clean-up, such as larger trees, we will solicit one maybe two contractors to complete the clean-up; which is anticipated to be completed in May 2023.
The Department acknowledges that Winter Springs West WRF has reported an Unauthorized Discharge of 84,000 gallons of fully treated wastewater on August 29, 2022. The Department acknowledges receipt of the necessary information related to the spill. The Department is not initiating formal enforcement proceedings at this time; however, this memorandum does not preclude the referenced spill from further action in the future in accordance with Sections 403.121, 403.131, 403.141 and 403.161, Florida Statutes.
Safe drinking water is a critical component of human life, but pollution threatens many of our water supplies. Agriculture is one of the key causes of water pollution. Industrial activities, overflowing sewers and naturally occurring substances can also contaminate our drinking water. Knowing the signs of water contamination will help you take actions that will keep you and your family safe.
When we turn on the tap, we trust that the water coming out of it is safe, but that’s not always the case.
Everything from agricultural runoff to lead pipes to byproducts of water decontamination can threaten our water’s safety. And the Safe Drinking Water Act that’s supposed to protect our drinking water doesn’t even look for toxic fluorinated compounds known as PFAS chemicals, even though the contaminants have been linked to cancer and birth defects.
The federal government regulates and protects our public drinking water via the Safe Drinking Water Act. The law, which was first enacted in 1974, covers water that comes from public sources, such as rivers, lakes, springs and groundwater wells. It does not cover private wells that provide water to fewer than 25 people.
The Environmental Protection Agency sets national standards for drinking water that include maximum legal limits on more than 90 contaminants. The agency also requires water authorities to perform certain tests for contaminants to ensure the standards are achieved. And it dictates how contaminants should be removed.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Safe Drinking Water Act grants the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to set national health standards for drinking water and to set the legal limits on more than 90 contaminants.
States can set their own drinking water standards as long as their standards are at least as strict as the EPA’s requirements. The EPA and states can also take enforcement actions against water systems that violate safety standards.
Types of Contaminants
Numerous types of contaminants can threaten drinking water. They include everything from chemicals to pesticides to animal waste to industrial waste injected into the ground. Naturally occurring substances, such as arsenic, radon and fluoride, can also contaminate groundwater.
DID YOU KNOW?
Every day, 2 million tons of sewage and other liquid waste pour into the world’s water supply. Contaminated water kills more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.
Waterborne pathogens, including bacteria, viruses and parasites, can also contaminate water. Between 2013 and 2014, more than three dozen water-related outbreaks were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These outbreaks resulted in more than 1,000 illnesses, 124 hospitalizations and 13 deaths.
According to the CDC, the leading causes of waterborne disease outbreaks are:
E. coli and excessive fluoride (tie)
These contaminants can lead to severe illness, including gastrointestinal upset, neurological problems and reproductive issues. They are especially dangerous to the very young and very old and to those with compromised immune systems.
In recent years, there have also been reports of pharmaceutical drugs in the water supply. Fortunately, the concentrations of these drugs are extremely low and unlikely to cause any considerable health effects, according to a 2012 study by the World Health Organization.
Causes of Contamination
Agricultural runoff is one of the biggest sources of water pollution and industrial agricultural operations are some of the worst offenders. Crop production and livestock both generate significant amounts of waste and runoff that can seep into water supplies.
Runoff from agricultural operations can contaminate water with:
Animal fecal waste containing bacteria, viruses and other pathogens
Antibiotics, hormones, salts and heavy metals excreted by livestock
Fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides
Water supplies can also be contaminated through the drinking water disinfection process. Water additives, such as chlorine and chloramines, are used to control the growth of microbes. But when levels are too high, they can cause eye and nose irritation, stomach upset and other problems.
DID YOU KNOW?
Farming consumes about 70 percent of the earth’s surface water and is the leading cause of water degradation.
Water disinfection can also cause the formation of dangerous byproducts, such as bromates, haloacetic acids and trihalomethanes — all of which can increase your risk of cancer. Other byproducts, such as chlorite, can cause anemia and nervous system problems in babies and children.
Even weather can adversely affect water quality. High temperatures and warmer waters can cause harmful algae blooms. Toxic blue-green algae prefer warm, slow-moving water. They’re also triggered by excessive levels of nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus.
Other potential sources of water contamination include:
Industrial activities, such as mining and foundries
Runoff from soil, air pollution and automobile emissions
Malfunctioning wastewater treatment systems, such as septic tanks
Leaking underground storage systems and pipes
Radiation leaks from nuclear power plants
Water that’s not properly treated or that travels through poorly maintained pipes can also pose a health hazard. If your water is acidic, corrosion of copper and lead pipes can occur and contaminate your water.
That’s what happened in Flint, Michigan in 2014 when city officials decided to start using the Flint River as an alternative water source until a new water pipeline from Lake Huron was built. The new water was cheaper than the water Flint had previously been pumping in from Detroit. But it wasn’t treated with an important anti-corrosive agent to deter lead contamination.
Soon, the city’s water turned brown and consumers began complaining that it was causing skin rashes, hair loss and other problems. Because officials failed to treat the corrosive river water, it was leaching lead out of the city’s aging pipes and sending it through thousands of taps. Studies later revealed that local children’s blood-lead levels had doubled or even tripled in some cases.
What Are PFAS Chemicals?
Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, are also generating a lot of buzz. The manmade chemicals have been used for decades in everything from non-stick pots and pans to stain protectants on carpets, clothing and upholstery. They are also used in firefighting foams.
The hazardous compounds are sometimes referred to as “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down in nature or in the body. They’ve also been linked to a wide variety of health problems, including several types of cancer, birth defects, endocrine and immune system problems, and elevated cholesterol.
While two common PFAS — perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) — have been phased out by United States industry, they are still used internationally and imported into the country.
A recent study by the Environmental Working Group and Northeastern University’s Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute pinpointed PFAS contamination at locations in 43 states, including drinking water sites serving approximately 19 million people.
Military sites were among those most affected by the problem. The chemicals likely contaminated the environment and groundwater on military bases when flame-resistant firefighting foam was used during training and emergency response exercises.
Communities near manufacturing sites have also discovered high levels of PFAS contamination of their water supplies.
DID YOU KNOW?
In 2016, the EPA issued a non-enforceable lifetime guidance level of 70 parts per trillion for two PFAS (PFOA and PFOS) in drinking water. In Hoosick Falls, New York, some samples detected PFOA levels at 130,000 parts per trillion.
In 2016, the village of Hoosick Falls, New York discovered high levels of the cancer-causing compounds in its public drinking water supply and private drinking water wells. According to the EPA, a person’s exposure level to PFAS, including PFOA and PFOS, in drinking water should not exceed 70 parts per trillion in a lifetime. In Hoosick Falls, some samples detected PFOA levels at 130,000 parts per trillion.
The state of New York has accused two local companies, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell International, of causing the pollution. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics was also implicated in a PFOA drinking water contamination near the company’s factory in Merrimack, New Hampshire.
Health Complications of Water Contamination
Contaminated water can cause considerable health problems, ranging from gastrointestinal illnesses to neurological problems to cancer.
In the case of pathogens that cause waterborne disease, the effects are usually noticed rapidly. A person who drinks water containing bacteria or a virus will often develop diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and other acute gastrointestinal symptoms. In severe cases, these symptoms can lead to dehydration and death.
Likewise, ingesting large amounts of copper-contaminated water may cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Extremely high amounts can cause liver and kidney damage and even death.
But other types of contamination are more insidious.
Signs and symptoms of lead exposure, for instance, typically won’t appear until dangerous levels have accumulated in a person’s body. The toxic metal can cause lifelong complications. Infants and children exposed to lead may have developmental delays, learning difficulties and behavioral problems.
And the health impacts of PFAS and other contaminants can take years to show up.
Studies suggest that PFAS exposure can lead to:
Fertility problems and hormone suppression
Pregnancy-induced hypertension and preeclampsia
Increased cholesterol levels
Immune system problems
A disruption of endocrine levels
An increased risk of certain cancers, including testicular and kidney cancer
An elevated risk of thyroid disease
And increased risk of asthma
If you suspect something is wrong with your tap water, contact your public water utility immediately. You may also wish to have your household water tested. The EPA provides a list of certified laboratories.
Red Flags That Your Water May Be ContaminatedIt Looks FunnyYour tap water should always be clear. If it looks cloudy or milky, set it down for a few minutes to see if it clears up. If it does, your water might have just contained trapped air bubbles. If it stays cloudy or foamy, your water could contain elevated levels of heavy minerals or something worse. In that case, it’s time to get your water tested.It Smells StrangeIf your water has an unusual smell, it could be contaminated, but oftentimes contaminants have no smell. A strong rotten egg smell can indicate that your water contains high levels of sulfur. This is usually not dangerous, but it can be unappetizing. Likewise, if your water tastes like a swimming pool, it may contain high levels of chlorine. A water filter may help eliminate excess chlorine and sulfur.It Tastes FunnyOftentimes, contaminants have no taste, but in some cases they might. In Flint, Michigan, residents said the water tasted strange, smelled bad and had a brownish color.
According to a 2017 article in the journal Applied Water Science, most contaminants can’t be easily detected and testing is needed to identify them.
If you have reason to believe your water supply is contaminated, switch to using bottled water for cooking, drinking, brushing your teeth and making ice.
In some situations, boiling your water will make it safe to consume. If your water authority issues a boil water advisory, bring your water to a vigorous boil for one minute. This will ensure that all bacteria and other microbes are killed and will make the water safe for drinking, cooking and ice making.
Unfortunately, boiling water won’t get rid of other types of contaminants and may even make the water worse. Boiling water that contains PFAS, for instance, will actually concentrate the chemicals and increase your health risks
On a household basis, there are also a number of things you can do to reduce the pollutionof our water.
You and your family can help keep our water supply safe by abiding by the following do’s and don’ts.
DO Catch Runoff. Use gravel, paver stones and other porous materials to stop the flow of stormwater around your home before it pours into storm drains.
DO Pick Up After Your Dog. Pet waste is laden with bacteria and can easily contaminate storm drains and water supplies. Pick up poop in a recycled bag and put it in your garbage.
DO Maintain Your Car. When your car leaks oil, coolant and other fluids, rainwater takes it right into the groundwater. Keep your car in good condition and also wash it in a commercial car wash. It’s better than discharging polluted water down your driveway.
DO Shop with Pollution in Mind. Reducing your use of harmful chemicals can also go a long way. When possible, choose non-toxic cleaners and pesticides and opt for phosphate-free detergents.
DON’T Use the Toilet as a Trash Can. Don’t flush tampons, baby wipes and other non-biodegradable products. Also avoid flushing old prescription medications and take them to a prescription drug drop-off point instead.
DON’T Use the Sink as a Trash Can. Never dump paint, oil or other household chemicals down the drain. This also goes for fat, oil and cooking grease. Instead, keep it in a jar under the sink and dispose of the jar in the garbage when it gets full.
Finally, if you see someone pouring oil down a storm drain or dumping waste in a stream, report them to the authorities. You may first want to try contacting your local government, but if that doesn’t work, you can contact your state environmental agency. The EPA also has an online form where you can report environmental violations.
The consent orders shared here should most certainly be characterized as serious. Some of the findings could possibly or probably indicate antiquated infrastructure but most of what is included here would suggest either a lack of staffing, or operator competency. There are just so many failures to report, neglected procedures and what sounds like inadequate general maintenance of the system. I am quite concerned as a resident of Winter Springs.
The partially untreated discharge events are always quite serious and would have a profound negative impact on water quality in the watersheds where it was released and perhaps even create a human health hazard for people unaware, recreating in nearby waters. However, to have several of these and not report them, there would have to be a significant plausible explanation for that to go un-disciplined, if not termination of responsible parties.
I also found myself wondering, maybe more importantly, how did they respond to the order? There may be circumstantial reasons for the findings, like staff turnover. However, once the order was issued, one would think getting it right would be prioritized.
Regardless, why have the residents of Winter Springs not be told about this situation? Why does our City use communication as propaganda for re-election instead of shooting straight with residents. Moreover, why are there so many failures and why were they never reported?
Poor water quality has a direct impact on water quantity in a number of ways. Polluted water that cannot be used for drinking, bathing, industry or agriculture effectively reduces the amount of useable water within a given area.
Declining water quality has become a global issue of concern as human populations grow, industrial and agricultural activities expand, and climate change threatens to cause major alterations to the hydrological cycle.
Globally, the most prevalent water quality problem is eutrophication, a result of high-nutrient loads (mainly phosphorus and nitrogen), which substantially impairs beneficial uses of water. Major nutrient sources include agricultural runoff, domestic sewage (also a source of microbial pollution), industrial effluents and atmospheric inputs from fossil fuel burning and bush fires. Lakes and reservoirs are particularly susceptible to the negative impacts of eutrophication because of their complex dynamics, relatively longer water residence times and their role as an integrating sink for pollutants from their drainage basins. Nitrogen concentrations exceeding 5 milligrams per litre of water often indicate pollution from human and animal waste or fertilizer runoff from agricultural areas.
An emerging water quality concern is the impact of personal care products and pharmaceuticals, such as birth control pills, painkillers and antibiotics, on aquatic ecosystems. Little is known about their long-term human or ecosystem impacts, although some are believed to mimic natural hormones in humans and other species.
Every day, 2 million tons of sewage and other effluents drain into the world’s waters.
Every year, more people die from unsafe water than from all forms of violence, including war
The most significant sources of water pollution are lack of inadequate treatment of human wastes and inadequately managed and treated industrial and agricultural wastes
In 2012, Winter Springs finished construction of the Lake Jesup Augmentation Facility. The plant would draw water from Lake Jesup and filter it to supplement Reclaimed water for the City of Winter Springs, to keep up with the increase of development.
However, the TOXIC Algae Bloom in Lake Jesup hindered this concept!!! The Lake Jesup water plant filters were continuously clogged by the toxic algae. In fact, the entire State of Florida has not yet found a solution to remove the excess nutrients of phosphorus and nitrogen. The main culprit is Fertilizer, Sewage being put in the Lakes, and Surrounding Septic tanks.
Fixing harmful algae blooms requires correcting the underlying problems that led to their growth in the first place. Because the toxins in algae blooms can spread rapidly.
The St. Johns River Water Management District has launched a pilot program which was implemented in August 2021 to harvest and remove algae, suspended solids and associated nutrients from Lake Jesup’s waters.
A harvesting unit mounted on a barge will be transported around Lake Jesup so that algae can be harvested at various locations. An innovative dissolved air flotation technology will be used to attach microscopic air bubbles to algae and suspended sediment, allowing efficient separation of algal biomass and clarified water. Clarified water will return to the lake while algal biomass will be managed/treated at Seminole County’s Yankee Lake Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Are you Utilizing Drinking Water for Irrigation???
The majority of Winter Springs Neighborhoods like Tuskawilla Crossing, Oak Forest, etc… are currently utilizing Potable Water (From the Aquifer) to irrigate their land. Currently the City has plans to can provide adequate reclaimed water to meet the needs of the development through piping which is included in the new $100 million dollar Wastewater Improvements.
Other neighboring properties, have older infrastructure that needs to be replaced or fixed, as some areas of Oak Forest do not have any access to Reclaimed Water!!!
It is the City of Winter Spring’s responsibility to provide this infrastructure to our residents.
“The upper Floridan aquifer, which supplies every municipal water supplier in Central Florida, is expected to hit its sustainable yield at 760 million gallons per day in the year 2025, she said. Beyond that level of flow, other sources of water for municipalities will need to be found.”
“The City of Winter Springs is currently allowed by the St. Johns River Water Management District to pump 4.15 million gallons of potable drinking water per day. That will drop to 4.14 million gallons per day from 2023 until Jan. 12, 2030. The city is also allowed to draw reclaimed water for irrigation from Lake Jesup and other groundwater sources up to 2.23 million gallons per day until April 10, 2027. The last time the city revised its water supply plan was 2017.”
“The city’s current potable water pumping capacity is more than double what it is allowed, and the city has been pushing initiatives to reduce consumption by residents and businesses. “
“To combat the city being close to its potable usage limits, the city expects to offset 50 million gallons per year of potable water used for irrigation within a year by adding in more neighborhoods connected to the city’s reclaimed water lines. Meanwhile, the city is looking for other possible water sources.”
“The ghost of an out-of-control ground water leak that’s dumping an estimated 333,000 gallons of water per day into Lake Jesup took up another nearly 15 minutes of discussion as the city and engineers talked about the potential of the artesian well in the Parkstone neighborhood. An unconfirmed source of water flowing into a small pond there spills into Seminole County’s second largest lake.Winter Springs Public Works and Utilities Director Jason Norberg said the leaking water is likely originating from the same North Floridan Aquifer that supplies the drinking water throughout Central Florida.”
“If there is an ability to control and contain it then that allows them to stop this potential problem that the community has, along with the potential to save that water from running off into the river.”
Scott Richards of Carollo Engineers said.
Boyle said the city has a permit to use the water from that natural well, if it’s determined to be possible, until 2027.
On March 8, 2022, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (“Department”) was notified by email that your facility, Winter Springs East, had an unpermitted sanitary sewer overflow (“SSO”) of approximately 750 gallons in potential violation of Chapter 403, Florida Statutes. As of June 7, 2022, a warning letter was sent to The City.
Reports, again, are tardy or missing from Reporting Records.
The facility was not well-maintained, had unauthorized discharges.
The facility exceeded fecal coliform limitations
In January 2021 Fecal Coliform results reported at EFA-1 was 67/100mL which exceeded the permit limitation of 25/100mL for a single sample.
The air distribution system had multiple malfunctions
On June 7, 2021, an airline rupture in the main air header was reported to the Department.
On September 12, 2021, a leak on the air distribution box at Plant #2 developed a leak.