LBK faces $242k fine for summer sewage spill

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The Town of Longboat Key is officially in the penalty assessment phase following last summer’s sewage spill in which the main effluent pipe spewed 11 million gallons onto a mangrove-filled area just east of the West Bradenton shoreline.

Last week, the town received from the State of Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) a Consent Order that requires the town to submit a Sewer Overflow Response Plan, provide mitigation as well as a corrective plan and monetary penalties.

The monetary penalty that the FDEP is requiring from Longboat Key is to pay a total of $241,652 in civil penalties and an additional $1,000 in hard costs that the FDEP says it incurred while investigating the incident.

The FDEP is allowing another option. The town, instead of paying the fine, can opt for an environmental enhancement project that must cost 150 percent of the fine amount.

If the town chooses a project, it cannot be one that was already planned, budgeted or in the works. The town could control or provide a direct benefit to the region if it so chooses an enhancement plan, which can include donating or purchasing environmentally sensitive land.

The town must notify the FDEP within the next two weeks if it chooses to pursue the in-kind penalty project.

Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer, the Commission and its attorneys are reviewing the FDEP’s Consent Order and the Town has until Oct. 23 to accept the settlement.

If the town agrees to the settlement, it will not be liable for any further damages from the State of Florida.

The sewer line ruptured in mid-June and the leak was discovered about two weeks after the break by Longboat Key and Manatee County Public Works staff.

The town is pursuing to build a redundant pipe, which it has planned for years, that will cost about $16 million.

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