By Hector Florin
A busted sewer pipe that led Briny Breezes officials to warn residents to limit their water usage is still being closely monitored, though the pipe is believed to be in good shape and won’t need to be replaced.
The 6-inch force main, operated by Boynton Beach and hooked up to Briny’s wastewater system, was clamped and repaired hours after the leak was called in Jan. 22 around 1:45 p.m. Someone near the sewage lift station at St. Andrews Country Club noticed a leak and reported it to Boynton Beach. The lift station was shut down within minutes and reopened later in the evening.
According to Boynton Beach officials, a boat anchor or other object could have pierced the pipe and caused the rupture.
News of the leak arrived moments before the monthly Briny Breezes Town Council meeting began. Mayor Roger Bennett announced the town would temporarily shut down the sewer system and sent a notice to town residents via the town’s cable channel. Bennett asked residents to conserve toilet flushing, showering and use of water. Septic trucks arrived in town that day to alleviate the problem, which was fixed overnight. Waste was transported to the Boynton Beach treatment plant.
“Somehow they made a temporary repair that’s serviceable,” Bennett said.
A group of Gulf Stream homes that are hooked up to the same pipe were also affected, Town Clerk Rita Taylor said.
Weekly tests of the county’s beaches were conducted on Jan. 20, and the following day results showed a “suspicious” amount of fecal coliform, Health Department spokesman Tim O’Connor said.
About 6,300 gallons of sewage leaked into the Intracoastal Waterway, said Wayne M. Segal, Boynton Beach’s public affairs director. The leak caused the Palm Beach County Health Department to issue No Swimming warnings at Ocean Inlet Park, Boynton Beach’s Oceanside Park and Gulfstream Park the afternoon of Jan. 22.
After conducting additional tests on Jan. 24, the beaches reopened the following day, O’Connor said. So far it’s not believed that the 25-year-old pipe will need to be replaced.
“The clamp that they used to repair the pipe can actually be a permanent repair,” Segal, the Boynton Beach spokesman, said in an e-mail. After studying a video, the city Utilities Department “concluded that the pipe seems to be fairly competent and exhibits little corrosion on the exterior surface,” he added.
In other Briny Breezes from the Jan. 22 meeting:
• 2008 Election: Upon the advice of Town Attorney Jerry Skrandel, Town Clerk and Alderman Kathy Bray announced that she cannot run for both positions in the March election. Bray was appointed alderman last year and earned the dual role in October when Alderman Nancy Boczon stepped down as town clerk and Deputy Clerk Janice Moore departed. Bray said she did not know which of the two seats she will run for.
• Red light cameras: Sgt. Michael Kelley, head of the Boynton Beach Police Department Traffic Unit, gave a presentation on red light cameras. Kelley said he spoke with vendors and studied ordinances passed by other municipalities to monitor drivers who run red lights. He offered general support for adding cameras as a public safety benefit and the Town Council also expressed interest in looking into adding cameras, which would monitor the town’s traffic light at Cordova Avenue and North Ocean Boulevard.