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Aging Infrastructure Shows Flaws during Tampa’s Hurricane Season

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Low-lying Tampa Bay, Florida kicked off the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season with 16 inches of rain over six weeks. This included flooding, an overflowing sanitary sewer system and the final remnants of Tropical Storm Erika as a hefty reminder of the amount of precipitation the city’s aging infrastructure simply can’t handle.

The city has since received its usual schedule of scattered showers—but not before exposing its citizens to raw sewage flowing up through manhole covers. This was caused by infiltration into its infrastructure through openings and exposed cracks in its underground wastewater pipes.

The city has 220 wastewater pumping stations that were unable to keep up with the near-record breaking rainfall, causing their pipes to overflow.

Eric Weiss, director of the city’s wastewater department told The Tampa Tribune that the city’s pipes are more than 80 years old. Though the city spends $1 million to $2 million a year on wastewater lines and manhole repairs—Weiss said he doesn’t know of any system that could protect against overflows under these conditions. 

As we’ve mentioned before, summer storms can cause catastrophic contamination from stormwater sewer overflow in communities like Tampa. 

Cities can keep their communities healthy and safe with durable, watertight solutions to prevent leaking pipes and overflowing or sucharging sanitary systems. Systems can run smoothly in a state of emergency with watertight rubber gaskets and pipe-to-manhole connectors and locked-down manhole covers that prevent both inflow and outflow.

Check out how Hamilton Kent products protect cities from these types of sanitary sewer system challenges in our 3D underground World.