Defenders of Crooked Lake Issue Health Warning After Heavy Rains Cause Sewage Overflows
Last updated 8/20/2019 at 7:36pm
The Defenders of Crooked Lake are sounding a health and safety alarm since recent record rains have resulted in overflows of both raw and treated sewage.
"Please use caution in the vicinity of standing water in the Crooked Lake Park area. The discharge of wastewater can result in increased concentrations of coliform bacteria and present a risk to human health," said an alert by Defenders President Jim Tully.
Tully said the Babson Park area typically receives eight inches of rain per month during July and August, yet the rain gauge at Warner University has recorded 26 inches over the last 30 days.
"This has led to a dramatic increase in the water level of Crooked Lake," said Tully, noting the water level is the highest it has been since 2005. As of August 14, the gauge at Bob's Landing reads 120.5 feet – three feet higher than mid-July. In 2005, he said, the water level in Crooked Lake reached a peak of 122.4 feet.
During periods of high water, he said Crooked Lake can discharge to Lake Clinch via a canal that includes multiple culverts, such as the culvert under CR 630A. He reported on Aug. 14 water was flowing through the ditch at CR 630A toward Lake Clinch.
Tully also said Polk County representatives confirmed Aug. 14 that approximately 11 inches of water was flowing over the weir, a control structure built many decades ago. He said Polk County staff would continue to evaluate the weir and the canal to determine whether additional maintenance is feasible. The weir and the canal are located on private properties, which limits the local and state agencies ability to perform regular maintenance.
"Canals and ditches that drain into Crooked Lake, particularly those in the vicinity of US 27, continue to flow at a very high rate," said Tully. "Our expectation is that the water level of Crooked Lake will increase as the watershed continues to drain into the lake - and as more rain is forecast for our area."
Sewer issues cropped up in Crooked Lake Park following a heavy rainfall Aug. 2 that caused untreated wastewater to flow along the side of the road and into a stormwater drain that discharges to a canal on Crooked Lake. High water levels at the wastewater treatment facility have also resulted in direct discharges of treated wastewater to wetlands adjacent to Crooked Lake, Tully said.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued warnings Aug. 6 and 13, and the Crooked Lake Park Sewerage Company pumped out manholes Aug. 14, but sewerage overflows resumed that evening, Tully said.
The Defenders of Crooked Lake said they would continue to follow up with local and state agencies.