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Longboat enters settlement with engineers following sewer main break

Consultant Greeley and Hansen have agreed to pay the town $425,000 for damages incurred in 2020.

  • By
  • | 5:00 a.m. February 15, 2023
Bradenton-based ET MacKenzie completed repair work after the town of Longboat Key's June 2020 sewage break.
Bradenton-based ET MacKenzie completed repair work after the town of Longboat Key's June 2020 sewage break.
Photo courtesy of the town of Longboat Key
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The town of Longboat Key is entering into a settlement agreement regarding an incorrect sewer main life estimate it received from a consultant.

In December 2015, the town entered a contract with Greeley and Hansen, an environmental engineering firm, to perform a condition assessment on the town’s wastewater pipeline running under Sarasota Bay to Manatee County’s Southwest Water Reclamation Facility. 

After conducting internal and external assessments of the pipe, the engineering firm concluded that at least 20 years of useful life remained in the sewer main and it had minimal risk for “catastrophic failure.”

The break in the pipe measured about 22 square inches.
File photo

In June 2020, about three years after the inspection, a pipeline leak due to corrosion was discovered in an underground area of mangroves on the Manatee County side of the bay. 

The corrosion resulted in about 14 million gallons of effluent escaping from the pipeline. 

The town incurred fees of more than $440,000 because of the leaked wastewater and was required to address administrative enforcement action from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. 

An FDEP consent order required payment of over $242,000. The town was allowed to make the payment with a number of deliverables and in-kind projects rather than making a cash payment. 

As of January, the town has completed all required deliverables and in-kind projects. The town also paid $15,000 to the Nature Coast Mitigation Bank as required by the order. 

The town’s total costs included emergency repairs, engineers, lawyers, fines and penalties from FDEP, according to a memorandum from Town Attorney Maggie Mooney.

Representatives of residents on the Longbar Point property, where the leak occurred, have reached out to the town with intent to pursue damages against the town. 

The town hired Martin Garcia from law firm Garcia Dell to act as litigation counsel and pursue potential claims. 

After meeting with Greeley and Hansen, a settlement agreement was reached for the following terms and commission consideration: 

  • The engineering firm will pay the town $425,000 as part of a resolution of the town's claims and threatened claims against the firm.
  • The parties will enter into a mutual release relating to the claims presented, any potential or threatened claims and provide complete releases for the work performed by each party.
  • The release will include releases of the engineering firm's agents, employees, former employees, consultants, affiliates, successors and insurers. The town's release will include commissioners, employees, consultants and agents for any claims arising from or related to the assessment of the spill.
  • Payments will be made in no more than three installments. The last payment must be paid on or before Oct. 31, 2023.
  • Settlement is subject to mutually agreeable settlement documents and the town's approval process.

Mooney and Garcia recommended the Town Commission accept the terms. Commissioners opted to forward the issue to a special meeting. The meeting will be held directly following the Feb. 21 workshop. The special meeting is required as commissioners are not allowed to vote during workshop meetings as they are purely meant for updates and discussion. 


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