DeLand works to keep wastewater flowing despite storm outages

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DeLand wastewater, hurricane irma, water safe to drink, sewage plant

FLOODING ISN’T THE PROBLEM — Flooding in the neighborhood of the City of DeLand Wiley M. Nash Water Reclamation Facility at 1101 S. Amelia Ave. is not the reason DeLand officials asked residents to limit their contributions to the sewage system during storm recovery. The problem is power loss to more than 100 lift stations scattered throughout the community, which need electricity to empty themselves by pumping wastewater to this plant.

DeLand water safe to drink

Four crews worked around the clock in DeLand during Hurricane Irma’s visit, transporting and connecting six portable generators to lift stations around the city, to prevent any overflow in DeLand’s wastewater-treatment system.

As of Sept. 13, the city had three confirmed reports of sewage backups, with at least one affecting the inside of a home. The incidents were on North Kansas Avenue, in the Lakeshore Trails neighborhood off State Road 11 north of DeLand, and at an auto-repair business in the Victoria Square shopping center on the south side of town, where floor drains backed up.

At about 5 p.m. Sept. 13, the city announced the problem was over, and normal use of the system could resume.

The lift stations, which rely on electricity, pump wastewater to DeLand’s main treatment plant at 1101 S. Amelia Ave. 

DeLand has 125 lift stations; at least 100 of them lost power during the storm. At press time, power was being restored to the lift stations throughout the city. At least half were back up and running at midday Tuesday, DeLand Public Services Director Keith Riger said.

“We’ve got it under control,” he added.

Sept. 10-12, the city had asked residents to minimize their contributions to the system — by limiting laundry, showering and flushing — to prevent any chance of further overflows.

Riger said Public Services crews did not stand down Sunday evening as the storm approached until the DeLand Police Department began enforcing a curfew. They were back on duty bright and early at 6:30 a.m. Monday.

Riger said 30 people from the city’s Public  Services Department stayed on duty throughout the storm event. 

The main treatment plant never lost the ability to treat sewage, Riger said.

He knew of no cases of sewage backing up or flowing out of the system other than the three mentioned, although he said it may have happened.

“It’s possible we burped out a little wastewater,” Riger said.

Reports on social media or from other sources about sewage in streets or yards may actually involve sewage-treatment facilities that aren’t part of the City of DeLand system, Riger said.

“There are a lot of private pump stations that don’t have any backup power,” Riger said.

Private treatment facilities may be located at shopping centers or manufactured-home parks, for example.

Thirty-five of the city’s lift stations — the bigger, more heavily used ones — have dedicated generators. These automatically switch to generator power when the electricity goes off.

As for the other side of DeLand’s utility system, city water kept flowing and remained safe to drink throughout the storm, Riger said, except for in one small area of Country Club Estates, where city workers had to shut off the water to repair a leak. Twenty-seven customers on Whitemarsh and Stratford drives and Royal Road in that neighborhood were being advised to boil their  water before drinking it, because contaminants can enter the line when pressure is lost during a shutdown. That boil-water advisory was lifted Wednesday, Sept. 13.

Riger advised anyone having problems with their City of DeLand water or sewage service to let the city know.

“If anybody has any problem, we want them to call us,” Riger said.

Residents were asked to call the Citizens Information Center at 386-626-7000.

“Be patient,” Riger added. “We’ll get everyone back to normal soon.”

- Barb Shepherd,

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