Raw, untreated sewage spilled from a broken Good Homes Road lift station near Apopka-Vineland and Old Winter Garden roads.
WEST ORANGE COUNTY Near the convergence of Ocoee, Gotha and MetroWest is Lake Rose, which stretches from South Apopka-Vineland Road northwest to Old Winter Garden Road along Woodlawn Cemetery Road.
Orange County Environmental Protection Division officials recently tested Lake Rose and found high concentrations of fecal coliform bacteria, based on raw, untreated sewage spilling from a broken lift station.
County officials said that privately held lift station broke March 20 at 109 Good Homes Road, near the Old Winter Garden Road intersection. The cause was a broken main sprinkler line eroding ground housing of a valve box, according to reports.
"The break occurred ... at 11:01 a.m.," OCEPD Communications official Nancy Rodlun said. "It was reported to Orange County Utilities at 11:14 a.m. The discharge ceased at 11:56 a.m. Water samples were taken on Lake Rose by Orange County Environmental Protection Monday morning, March 21."
Waste had flowed into 94-acre Lake Rose and an adjacent canal, making them unusable for all activities and pets, from exceeding state bacteria standards. County personnel also warned against using irrigation wells drawing from nearby underground resources.
“We do not know the exact time when this issue will be resolved, most likely in the next two weeks,” said Julie Bortles, Orange County Water Sciences Program supervisor. “Mother Nature will ultimately remediate the bacteria levels, and our department will continue testing the site every couple of days until water quality is determined to be safe. Residents should take precautionary measures to avoid exposure.”
Authorities estimate more than 1,000 gallons of sewage likely spilled into Lake Rose. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is aware of the incident, and Orange County Utilities staff is overseeing lift station repairs. OCEPD officials are monitoring 177-acre Lake Sherwood -- which stretches north from the western side of Frangus Elementary past state roads 408 and 50 to the Lake Sherwood Apartments near Balboa Drive -- for signs of waste intrusion.
"Both Lake Steer and Lake Lotta flow into Lake Rose, so contamination is unlikely," Rodlun said. "Although the canal where the contamination happened connects Lake Sherwood and Lake Rose, no physical contamination is evident in Lake Sherwood. Sampling has been done as a precautionary measure. The results are not in yet. Note also that Lake Rose only discharges into Lake Sherwood when the elevation meets the discharge point, and that has not occurred."
Phil Kane, FDEP environmental specialist, Central District, is investigating the incident. The property owner would be responsible for stabilizing the nearby hillside, extracting sand from the canal connecting Lake Rose to Lake Lotta and then document it all before letting FDEP officials inspect the area, he said.
“Service to the residents is already connected,” Kane said. “They have a bypass pump, and in less than 24 hours, they were all back online, so there is sewer connection out there.”
The property owner could not be contacted for comment.
Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].