Sewage Overflow FAQs

For the most up-to-date information regarding the lake, please subscribe to the Lake Alert service or call the Lake Alert hotline number, 407.246.2220.  

General Sanitary Sewer Overflow

What is an overflow?

An overflow is what happens when sanitary sewage leaves its intended area and into the environment.

What are common causes of an overflow?

Common causes of an overflow include, but are not limited to: grease or used cooking oil build up in the pipes, excess trash, flushable wipes, aging infrastructure and root intrusion.

What is the City of Orlando’s response to a sanitary sewer overflow?

In the event of an overflow, the city’s Water Reclamation staff is notified. The Water Reclamation response team is sent out to assess the situation, and if the overflow is from a public or city line, the team can stop the overflow, restore normal flow to the sewer system and clean the impacted areas.

Why is the City of Orlando not out here cleaning this up?

The City of Orlando’s response team may provide guidance with the overflow response if the overflow is coming from a privately-owned sewer system. The Water Reclamation response team can help reduce the environmental impacts, but it is the responsibility of the owner of the private sewer system to call in their own contractor to stop the overflow, restore normal flow to the system and clean the impacted areas.

Am I in danger?

You should always avoid the impacted areas from a sewer overflow. By not exposing yourself to the raw sewage or the impacted areas, you greatly lower your risk of potential health issues. However, our risk is never zero. For more information visit floridahealth.gov.

What if the sewage went into the lake?

If the sewer overflow impacts a lake in your area, you should avoid contact with the lake or contaminated water body. The biological processes of a lake can handle overflow impacts over time. The City of Orlando’s Stormwater team will assess these impacts and monitor the contamination levels. If you live on, near or around one of the lakes in the City of Orlando, you should sign up with the city’s Lake Alert system.

Is it safe to walk around the neighborhood or walk my dog/when will I know it is safe?

Look for signs around your neighborhood for areas to avoid. It is important not to go into these areas until the signs have been removed. Sign up for the City’s Lake Alerts as well for updated information.

Can I still use my irrigation system from the lake?

For more information, view the FAQs below for updates on irrigation system impacts.

Don’t see the answer to your question? Email alyssa.madrid@orlando.gov for more information.

 

Overflows into Lakes or Bodies of Water

Can you add a chemical to clean it up?

The health of our lakes is one of the top priorities for the City of Orlando, and as such we do not add any extra chemicals to the lakes during these spills. Adding chemicals can affect the plants and wildlife that live in these lakes, and therefore we allow the water quality of the lake return to normal under natural conditions, with Stormwater personnel testing every three days, or as possible.

 

Is it safe to swim?

If there is a Lake Alert in effect, we do not advise swimming in the lake. For the most up-to-date information regarding the lake, please subscribe to the Lake Alert service and call the Lake Alert hotline number, 407.246.2220.

 

Is it safe for my dogs to swim in?

If there is a Lake Alert in effect, we do not advise allowing your dog(s) to swim. Even if dogs are not affected from what said Lake Alert is in order for, they may bring E. coli bacteria to you or your household.

 

Is it safe to go boating?

If there is a Lake Alert in effect, we recommend staying out of the lake entirely until Stormwater personnel have lifted the Lake Alert and allowed normal water activities to resume.

Will I get any diseases from contact?

Sewage can contain different types of bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses that can cause intestinal, lung, and other infections. This is why when a Lake Alert is in effect we do not encourage resuming any normal water activities until the Lake Alert has been lifted.

How soon will it be back to normal?

Stormwater personnel will regularly and continuously test for improved water quality. Once it reaches acceptable water quality standards, it will be removed from the Lake Alert system and all normal water activities will be safe to resume. Please note, as the city allows the health of the lakes to get back to normal under natural conditions, it can take more/less time depending on things such as rainfall, etc.

 

When will we know it is safe?

Once Stormwater personnel have confirmed the water quality standards are accepted, the Lake Alert will be lifted.

 

Can I irrigate?

If there is a Lake Alert in effect, the city does not advise using your irrigation until the Lake Alert has been lifted and water quality conditions have returned to acceptable standards.

Don’t see an answer to your question? Email questions to the Public Awareness Specialist at mary.cvetan@orlando.gov.