The Escambia County Utilities Authority’s Tim Haag reported that the cause of raw sewage overflowing in the Tanyard neighborhood a block west from City Hall was the result of a deluge of stormwater into its wastewater treatment system. The Hayward administration and its recently breached Government Street/Corrine Jones stormwater pond may have caused the overflow.
Haag said ECUA was checking other areas for similar problems.
The Tanyard problem impacts both the health of the residents living there and the health of Pensacola Bay that the stormwater pipes flow into, according to a local environmentalist.
Emerald CoastKeeper Director Laurie Murphy reported feces, vomit, toilet paper and other untreated sludge flooding DeVilliers Street from Main to Government streets. The raw sewage can cause Hepatitis, Legionaries Disease, diarrhea, and other illnesses.
“This is a major health hazard,” Murphy said. “We need a little more sense of urgency out here.”
Plus, she said the contaminated stormwater could contaminate Pensacola Bay, harming people and the fisheries.
Local government workers removed the major solids that were in the flood waters Wednesday, and Haag committed to Murphy that ECUA would clean up the remaining standing water that remained ankle deep for a half block from Zaragossa toward Government streets.
The contaminated water was so high Wednesday that Tanyard resident Dr. Gloria Horning used her own car to block the roadway and rescued an old lady trapped in her car in the flood waters.
Both Horning and Pensacola City Councilwoman Sherri Myers yesterday notified city officials of the problems on Devilliers Street.
The Emerald Coastkeeper questioned the city’s commitment to cleaning up the Tanyard neighborhood, pointing out four stormwater outfalls exist for the area bordered by Main and Garden streets. She also cited low roadways and other issues.
“Engineers need to do a study on ways to solve this problem,” Murphy said. “It’s like the city paid all their money on entertainment and forgot to pay the bills. If I was mayor, my first priority would be the health and welfare of the citizens and resolving the infrastructure problems we have.”
Despite three days of rain, the Government Street/Corrine Jones stormwater pond has been low because the city and its contractors had pumped water out of it, according to Murphy. The city had been draining the pond to repair the easternmost wall that had been breached last week.
Murphy told Inweekly she saw the pumps still running late Wednesday afternoon.