Hillsborough County investigating after apartment complex dumps 184,000 gallons of sewage

Most of the waste went into Hillsborough County’s rainwater drainage system and the areas surrounding Willow Brooke Apartments.

click to enlarge A picture of the fountain at Willow Brooke Apartments. - Willow Brooke Apartments/Facebook
Willow Brooke Apartments/Facebook
A picture of the fountain at Willow Brooke Apartments.

In late July, Willow Brooke Apartments spilled 184,000 gallons of sewage in North Tampa, according to records with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

The FDEP report says that two trucks removed about 8,000 gallons of the sewage from the property. The remaining 176,000 gallons went into Hillsborough County’s rainwater drainage system and surrounding areas.

The spill was caused by the apartment complex using only one lift station pump to process the sewage from the apartments at the complex, when two or more are supposed to be in operation. 

When functioning properly, the lift station pumps collect all the sewage from the pipes coming from the complex’s apartments and then send the water to the municipal system. The one pump, which had been in operation solo for seven months, failed.

“We had only one working pump in the station and it got overloaded in processing the waste,” Kaylee Heckinger, Property Manager at Willow Brooke reported to the FDEP on July 21. “Currently in the process of getting estimates to replace the pump and add an additional pump.”

Heckinger said that at the time she spoke with the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission (HCEPC) and would take the necessary precautions for cleaning and disinfecting the affected areas. However, most of the wastewater was irretrievable.

CL reached out to Willow Brooke’s property management company Pacifica S.D. Management for comment on the situation, but did not receive a response. 

The HCEPC sent Willow Brooke’s management a warning, with their main demand being to fix their broken pump and install another pump to avoid further spills. 

This week, CL reached out to the HCEPC to see if the problem with the sewage pumps at Willow Brooke had been fixed.

Paula Noblitt, Senior Environmental Manager of Water for the Hillsborough EPC said that a second lift station pump has been installed at Willow Brooke, but that they are “still evaluating” the situation to see if any further administrative action by the HCEPC should occur.

 If further administrative action is taken, the case could end in fines for the property owners.

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About The Author

Justin Garcia

Justin Garcia has written for The Nation, Investigative Reporters & Editors Journal, the USA Today Network and various other news outlets. When he's not writing, Justin likes to make music, read, play basketball and spend time with loved ones. 

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