Environment Pensacola

City of Pensacola blames ECUA for raw sewage in Tanyard

June 23, 2017

Yesterday, ECUA executive director Steve Sorrell blamed the raw sewage flowing on DeVilliers Street one block west of Pensacola City Hall on the failure of the City of Pensacola stormwater system. Inweekly reporter Duwayne Escobedo tried to get comment from City PIO Vernon Stewart.

Instead, the City posted on its Facebook page that Sorrell’s report was “inaccurate.”

You may or may have seen reports of breached manhole covers, raw sewage flooding the Tanyard area, and inaccurate reports of the City of Pensacola stormwater system failing.

These claims are incorrect. In fact, properly securing manhole covers is an ECUA function. The stormwater system did not fail. The system reached capacity and was overwhelmed due to the nine inches of rain in the last 48 hours. No stormwater system is expected to properly function under those extreme conditions.

Again, the downtown streets were flooded not because of a failed stormwater system. It was because we received nearly nine inches of rain in 48 hours.

The City did not explain why its 3-1-1 service failed to act in a timely matter or report the health hazard to the Escambia County Health Department and Tanyard residents.

Emerald Coastkeeper Laurie Murphy has called for the reinstitution of the joint city-county Storm Water Advisory Team (SWAT) to independently analyze the city’s stormwater issues without political interference.

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  • Reply CJ Lewis June 24, 2017 at 7:58 am

    Stewart says, “No stormwater system is expected to properly function under those extreme conditions.” Is that a true statement? It seems a simple statement to put to the test to include by reviewing national standards for the design of stormwater systems; applicable state, county and city laws, rules and/or regulations that govern such systems; and the city’s own design specifications. Nine inches of rain spread out over 48 hours does not seem unusual – “extreme” – for this area so prone to large storm events. What is the maximum “capacity” of the stormwater system in the Tanyard event and how frequently does the city expect it to be overwhelmed? Did other parts of the city and county experience the same problem? Most of what I expect to learn in the near future will come from the media doing public records requests to uncover what city hall does not want us to know. We already have an Environmental Advisory Board. Perhaps it could be tasked to review the city’s stormwater system to include assessing its linkages if any to the county’s system. Lastly, when the city builds a stormwater project, what coordination is done with the county and ECUA, an “independent special district” and part of county government? You would like to think that the city would at least run its plans by the county to include because it contracted with the county to provide environmental services after the city abolished its Environmental Services Division in 2008. Traditionally, both the old and new Pensacola City Council does not believe in legislative oversight. However, if it did, this would seem one area ripe for investigation to include especially because the city charges property owners a Stormwater Assessment Fee not paid outside of city limits.

  • Reply Qualified June 23, 2017 at 9:25 am

    A pretty simple question to ask the City, what is the capacity of the storm water system? 9 inches in 48 hours or 4.5 inches in 24 hours may seem like a lot but it’s not really.

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