The City of West Palm Beach wastewater treatment plant has had scheduled maintenance work underway to replace two aging valves on a 48-inch pipe. The pipe carries treated wastewater plant effluent to the disposal system. As construction activity proceeded, a small leak developed on Monday evening, February 6. The treated effluent normally carried by the pipe had already been rerouted to a newly built bypass line, but a limited quantity of treated effluent remained in the original pipe. This is what began to leak from the pipe on Monday.
FDEP officials visited the site Thursday, February 9, and determined that the leak was properly contained and there is no immediate threat to the environment. There is no contamination of the City’s drinking water supply.
The crews onsite immediately installed a containment structure with three separate pumps, to collect any escaped effluent along with rainwater and groundwater that enter the area of the spill. The pumps send the combined water to the headworks at the beginning of the plant, and this combined water is then fully treated and disposed of by the same process that handles the City’s raw sewage. Approximately 8,500 gallons of treated effluent is estimated to have escaped before the pumping system began working.
The location of the leak is over a mile and a half from the M Canal and poses no threat to the drinking water supply or the groundwater. Mayor Muoio wishes to reassure residents that their drinking water is safe. Repairs to the pipe are expected to be completed today or Saturday, depending on weather conditions.