Health Department issues advisory for Destin Harbor after weekend wastewater leak

Northwest Florida Daily News/USA TODAY NETWORK

DESTIN — The Florida Department of Health in Okaloosa County (DOH-Okaloosa) has issued a health advisory for Destin Harbor due to a wastewater release near the southeast corner of 218 Harbor Blvd.

Destin Water Users is performing water quality monitoring and testing. Once satisfactory results are achieved, the health advisory will be lifted.

DWU received a call Saturday about a leaking water main behind a building at 218 Harbor Blvd. DWU arrived and couldn't locate any isolation valves, and it was determined to monitor the minor leak throughout the weekend.

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On Monday, another DWU employee checked the main and it was still leaking and had a chlorine residual of 1.6, confirming drinking water and not irrigation. Tuesday morning, the staff began trying to locate more valves to locate its source, isolate the main and make the repair, but with no luck they decided to bring in a pump truck to clear the hole and make the repair.

Upon pumping the area at about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, it was determined that the 2-inch water main had a hole leaking from a former repair clamp that had failed. It was also noted that when the pump truck excavated for the repair, the nearby 2-inch force main had a hole in it as well, assumed to be caused by the water main leak.

The pump truck continued pumping until the force main could be repaired as well.

The force main serves two private lift stations from 214 and 218 Harbor Blvd, so the total station volume that may have pumped thru the force main Tuesday is less than 500 gallons.

The force main contents blended with the water main and traveled across the parking lot to the boat ramp on the southeast corner of 218 Harbor Blvd. It's estimated that the water main had about 3,500 gallons of water over the course of the weekend blended with about 500 from the force main.

The pump truck was able to recover about 3,000 gallons, so about 500 gallons of a mixture of water and wastewater entered the Destin Harbor, while the remaining percolated into the ground. DWU returned the water main and force main back to service about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, including liming the area of the parking lot.

Water contaminated with wastewater presents several health hazards to humans and may contain untreated human sewage with microbes that could cause gastro-intestinal and other diseases. 

Anyone who comes into contact with the affected waterway should wash thoroughly, especially before eating or drinking. Children and older adults, as well as people with weakened immune systems, are particularly vulnerable to disease, so every precaution should be taken if in contact with the affected waters.

For more information about the potential health effects of wastewater overflow, residents and visitors are encouraged to contact DOH-Okaloosa at 850-833-9247 or visit www.healthyokaloosa.com.