Clean Water for Sarasota


As part of our Sick of Sewage campaign, we identified Sarasota as one of the Suncoast's cities in need of repair. Sarasota's collection system, like many in Florida, needed upgrades, repairs and improved investigation and management. But the most significant failure, which was the focus of this case, was the reclaimed water system from the County's largest sewage treatment plant. For nearly a decade, the effluent from the plant flowed over the storage pond into Phillippi Creek and into Sarasota Bay, bringing nearly a billion gallons of wastewater with high concentrations of Nitrogen into an estuary that was seeing increased algae blooms and seagrass losses, associated with excess Nitrogen. For nearly a decade, the spills were hidden from the public and other stakeholders that were working hard to improve water quality in Sarasota Bay.


Following our successful Clean Water Act Citizen Suits against St. Petersburg and Gulfport, Suncoast Waterkeeper brought a similar case against Sarasota County and was able to negotiate a settlement without significant litigation. The parties were able to focus their time, energy and resources on resolving the claims and fixing the failed sewage system, rather than litigating. This case was resolved with a commitment, under a federal court order with oversight and monitoring, to upgrade the collection system and stop the spills. Sarasota County has committed over 300 million dollars in upgrades as a result of this case and to date, there have been no new spills from the storage pond.