Hurricane-damaged sewer system in need of long-term repairs

After Hurricane Matthew: Sewage problems

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla.  -- No matter if you are a tourist or a resident of St. Augustine, everyone needs a operable sewer system. However, the sewer system took a big hit when Hurricane Matthew barreled through.

When the rain fell and the storm surge flooded the city, the water flooded the sewer system and sewer equipment called pump stations. Sewage spread throughout the city.

"Along with floodwaters. Along with everything," St. Augustine Public Works director Martha Graham said. 

People with flooded houses were warned about the water that invaded their homes.

These pump stations -- which have electrical grids -- push the sewage to the water treatment plant, Graham said.

Graham and engineer William Mendez said of the 75 pump stations across St. Augustine, 13 of them were damaged. The water poured into the electrical structure at the pump stations, zapping them. 

"The electronics are not meant to be flooded. It's basically like an electronic grid in your house," Graham said.

The pump stations are back up and running, Graham noted. The city made short term repairs within a week after the storm... but they're just "Band aids. The mayor calls them band aids, band aid fixes."

The total cost to fix or replace or elevate all the damaged pump stations is $11 million, Graham said. 

The city commission this week discussed spending money for an engineering plan so that the city can apply for FEMA assistance.

It's a project that has to be done. To repair or replace all of the damaged pump stations, it could take two or three years. And that means going through a couple more hurricane seasons. 

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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