‘The smell is horrendous’: Water plant malfunction sends 10,000 gallons of sewage into Winter Springs lake

WINTER SPRINGS, Fla. — 9 Investigates uncovered a malfunction at a Winter Springs water plant sent more than 10,000 gallons of sewage into a private lake surrounded by dozens of homes, creating a massive fish kill.

The people who live nearby want the city to restore the lake, replace the fish and protect their property values.

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The Department of Environmental Protection sent the city a warning letter after learning about the dump. No one from the city of Winter Springs would speak to Eyewitness News on camera, but confirmed it happened during a $1.5-million project to upgrade the wastewater treatment plant. A city spokesperson called it a “horrible situation made worse by the stuff people put down their drains.”

“The smell is horrendous right now, it’s nowhere near what it was or what it is at nighttime, it just smells of raw sewage and dead fish,” homeowner Travis Morris said.

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Cell phone video from neighbors shows dozens of fish flailing and dying, and buzzards showing up in response.

9 Investigates confirmed a malfunctioning valve at a nearby water treatment facility, undergoing $1.5 million in repairs, sent an estimated ten to 15,000 gallons of sewage into the lake.

“It’s devastating to see that happen to our animals, our wildlife, our lake, our community,” Morris said. “And outside of that, as property owners, it has negatively impacted the value of our homes.”

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A city spokesperson said in a statement, “We are very sorry for the inconvenience, nuisance, and concern of nearby residents,” but Morris and neighbors want the lake restored and restocked.

“We want to see a plan with dates and commitments on it,” Morris said.

We asked the city for specifics on what it plans to do to clean the lake and restore the number of fish, and we are still waiting to hear back.

Karla Ray, WFTV.com

Karla Ray anchors Eyewitness News This Morning on Saturday and Sundays, and is an investigative reporter for the 9 Investigates unit.