A Message from Mayor Woodruff
On behalf of the City of Sanford, I would like to apologize for the hardship experienced by those in our Downtown area who are connected to our vacuum sewer system and who are experiencing system failures. We understand you expect dependable utility services.
As a result of Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole, the City of Sanford was not prepared for the level of failure that occurred in the last few months. The amount of water the storms produced resulted in the City’s vacuum sewer system not functioning properly. City staff crews have been working tirelessly, struggling to keep the system operating at even a minimal level. When you see them, please thank them.
We are replacing parts and upgrading the system as quickly as parts are available. Our intent is to replace all of the control systems in each of the nearly 500 vacuum pits, add an additional vacuum pump, and remove several heavy users from the system to free up capacity.
The City of Sanford expects to have this completed by late 2023/early 2024. Please be assured we are working as hard as we can to correct this situation.
For additional information visit the City’s website page “Vacuum Sewer” at Vacuum Sewer | Sanford, FL (sanfordfl.gov) or https://sanfordfl.gov/government/public-works-utilities/water_and_sewer/vacuum-sewer/.
To report a problem call our 24 Hour Utilities Customer Service Line at 407-688-5100.
We appreciate your understanding.
Mayor Art Woodruff
Vacuum Sewer System Emergency Project
Information related to the City of Sanford’s ongoing project.
Action Plan for Phase 1
Current Action Items
- Approval/Adoption of Resolution No. 2023-3112,a uthorizing emergency procurements.
- Designate a call line for the Vacuum Sewer after hour Calls ( 688.5100 )
- Utility City Staff working overtime to pump down and maintain vacuum system every week
- Consultant Designing a of small lift stations to move 3 commercial customers off the vacuum sewer system (estimated cost $96,575)
- Submit the Purchase Order Requisitions following State and City procurement policy
- Repair Parts $674,454
- Additional Parts $40,481.17
- Vacuum Pump $249,000
- Training $61,250
- TOTAL $1,025,185.17 (Estimated total)
- City Staff has reprioritized ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) and SRF (State Revolving Funds) to utilize for Emergency Vacuum Sewer System repair.
Future Action Items
- Vendors for related services
- Pump Downs
- TV Lines
- Line Repair
- Leasing of Vac Trucks when some go off line
- Consultant design of Vacuum Sewer Pump Station Improvements
- Research a vendor Piggy Back or Joint Utilization Agreement
- Installation of 4 small downtown lift stations late Fall 2023
- Adding temporary contract employee
- Contracting with a Project Manager to coordinate the Vacuum Sewer System Action Items
Last updated 3/23/2023
City Staff and our vendor have been working diligently to troubleshoot, repair, and/or replace parts of the vacuum sewer collection system. Staff has focused on bringing the most customers online as quickly as possible; however, there are still areas that are in a ‘failed’ state and are continuing to be pumped down manually. The good news for those still in the ‘red/incomplete’ zones as depicted in the map (linked here) is that our pump-down staff can focus on a smaller area and we anticipate much shorter response time to customer calls. The City’s focus is now on these remaining areas to bring them to an operational state as soon as possible. While we work on getting these last areas operational, other phases of the project are in motion to reduce the load on the vacuum sewer and increase reliability of the vacuum pump station.
Last updated 3/13/2023
Flovac started evaluation and installation work on Wednesday, March 8. The Gateway was installed this morning on the Elevated Water Tank next to the baseball field on Mellonville Avenue. The Gateway is part of the telemetry system that will help areas of direct inflow and infiltration, check vacuum pressures and troubleshoot the system wirelessly. The monitoring equipment will start being installed in the field once locates have been cleared for digging. City staff along with Flovac’s staff have started troubleshooting different pits, buffer tanks and mains.
Frequently Asked Questions
We would like to answer some common questions about the City’s ongoing emergency project for the Vacuum Sewer System repair and maintenance.
Vacuum sewerage systems consist of a vacuum station, where the vacuum is generated, the vacuum pipeline system, collection chambers with collection tanks and interface valve units. In contrast to conventional gravity sewerage systems with intermediate pumping stations, the permanent pressure within the vacuum system is maintained below atmospheric pressure. Moreover, vacuum technology reduces water consumption considerably, enabling flexible installations regardless of topography and water availability. (description provided by Vacuum Sewers | SSWM – Find tools for sustainable sanitation and water management!)
The City of Sanford’s vacuum sewer system was installed 30 years ago, primarily for the residential community downtown. This system was less disruptive to retrofit into the older neighborhood than traditional gravity sewer, but requires more ongoing maintenance. The vacuum main pipelines and valve pits are installed through alleyways and alongside existing infrastructure and utilities such as gas and telephone lines, making regular maintenance quite challenging. Recent storms and heavy rainfalls may have further damaged the system, causing more stormwater intrusion. In addition, the City of Sanford has experienced commercial growth downtown over the last few years. The system was not designed for the high volume of sewage at certain times and days that commercial usage generates. The vacuum sewer system installed in the 1990’s has been underperforming of late, and staff has spent extraordinary time and effort to keep it operational.
Please call the City of Sanford Customer Service Line at 407.688. 5100. After Hours, please call the same number and follow the prompts for the dedicated Vacuum Sewer Line.
This only impacts Sanford residents and customers in the general area of S. 2nd Street to 20th Street, and between French Avenue and Sanford Avenue.
The City’s utilities crews have been trying to keep up with the maintenance of approximately 500 vacuum pits, by replacing parts when available. However, shortage of talented staff and supply chain issues have further resulted in delays. Based on recommendations from the manufacturer of the system, the City is pursuing emergency procurement of replacement and upgraded valves, pumps and other equipment that will significantly improve reliability and performance of the system. Staff will be meeting with an engineering consultant to plan for improvements beyond the immediate upgrades.
Other improvements currently in design include construction of three lift stations, for the Willow Tree, Tuffy’s and the Sanford Brewing Company. These lift stations will relieve pressure off the overwhelmed vacuum system, connecting the three high volume wastewater generators directly to gravity sewer lines.
In addition, the City is investigating and repairing other sources of groundwater intrusion into the vacuum system, including individual customer service lines and other contributing gravity pipelines
The City will regularly post updates about the action plan and project status to the City website. The City will also post appropriate notifications to their social media pages when they become available.
For more information you can listen to the City’s Sanford Says Podcast or Contact Utilities at 407.688.5100 or email UtilityCustomerService@sanfordfl.gov