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Away From Home

Sunday, November 27, 2005

21 million gallons of raw sewage? A mere trifle

A fun story about the wonders of local government:

Hundreds of people woke to find bugs swarming around their homes. Fish were dying by the dozens at the nearby pond. Buzzards circled.

For 43 days this summer, no one was able to pinpoint the source of the mysterious problems outside the meticulously maintained homes near Lake Bernadette in Zephyrhills.

The odor intensified in the summer heat. The pond where people had fished festered and algae bloomed thick and green, then thick and red.

. . .

Meanwhile, residents were steamed.

Since the beginning of June, they had watched fish float to the top of their pond by the bucketload. They counted 338 as they picked them up one by one, including 170 large mouth bass, the majority weighing more than 10 pounds.

"The pond looked like the top of a septic tank," said resident Lillie Fondell.

Julie Knox, secretary for the American Condominium Parks Homeowners Association, said she made repeated calls to the county health department by the end of June, including information about exactly where they saw sewage gushing several feet high from a pipe beside a major road and the pond.

"They said, "It's not our problem,"' Knox said.

That's right. The problem was caused by a break in a sewage line, which spilled 500,000 gallons per day into a local pond, for a total of 21 million gallons.

But it wasn't the county health department's problem.


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