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Crews cleaning up streets after raw sewage spill in St. Augustine

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Updated: 5/06/2013 8:46 pm
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- The heavy rains proved to be too much for St. Augustine's sewer system.

The more than nine inches of rain caused sewers to overflow, spilling raw sewage into area waterways.

Crews were out today laying down lime rock in the affected areas to help make streets passable again.

"It was the nastiest smell that I could ever smell," said Nora Satterfield, neighbor.

Nora Satterfield's home sits just feet away from the San Sebastian River. On Saturday a sewer by her house burst and began spewing raw sewage.

"I was very angry, I called them and she said I'm sending someone right out," said Satterfield.

According to Martha Graham, Director of the Department of Public Works, the sewer system is not designed to handle large amounts of rain water.

"Our sewer system is designed to handle a certain amount. Basically with the amount of rain that we've had our system is surcharged and has over flown into the water bodies," said Martha Graham, Director of Public Works.

Neighbors were warned not to swim, fish or boat in the San Sebastian and Matanzas rivers, including Hospital and Oyster Creeks and Lake Maria Sanchez.

Neighbors worry the contamination will have a long term effect.

"Should you keep your dogs back and is it going to affect the fishing and the oysters and the coast line in the long run?," said Zeke Williams, neighbor.

Graham says the city spends 300 to 400 thousand dollars a year to prevent rain water from seeping into the sewer system but that this time conditions were similar to a tropical storm.

"We have an annual program of aligning our sewers and our man holes to make sure no rain waiter can get in them," said Graham.

Graham says the heavy rain has helped dilute much of the contamination but neighbors say more should be done to prevent this from happening again.

"I think they should build a new one," said Satterfield.

According to city officials the sewer system is no longer overflowing, they're now testing samples to make sure the waterways are safe to use again.
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imtellin - 5/7/2013 7:29 AM
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I can see the headlines now, "coverage of king & queen of spain at government house, not what city expected" !!! the royal couple were greeted in the oldest city by a sewer eruption,, that left them less than enthused... nation's oldst city, nation's oldest sewers & water systems!!! millions for the 450th,, yet only 3-400k er year to repair, not replace the systems that keep the life in the city ??? good planning !!!how does that affect tourism??? or are only residents affected ???
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