Gulfport SSO

Project:  Gulfport SSO

Client:  Suncoast Waterkeeper; Our Children’s Earth Foundation; Ecological Rights Foundation

Location: Gulfport, Florida

Services:  Wastewater Treatment/Sewer Systems; Litigation Support

Between 2012 and 2016 the City of Gulfport (Gulfport), a beachside community, experienced sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) that spilled over 2 million gallons of raw sewage from its sanitary sewer system.  Much of the raw sewage polluted the Boca Ciega Bay, a sensitive water body deemed an “Aquatic Preserve” by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Gulfport’s SSOs were caused primarily by rain derived inflow and infiltration (I&I) that entered Gulfport’s sewer system through deteriorating pipes and manholes.  Gulfport’s sewer system contained undersized pipes and a pump station with inadequate capacity to convey excessive flows caused by I&I, resulting in a hydraulic bottleneck and SSOs.

Suncoast Waterkeeper (SCWK), Our Children’s Earth Foundation (OCE), and Ecological Rights Foundation (ERF) sued Gulfport under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to compel Gulfport to make the repairs necessary to its collection system to prevent SSOs during rainstorms and turned to CEA Engineers and Kevin Draganchuk, P.E. for technical expertise.

Under a tight court-imposed schedule, Mr. Draganchuk prepared an Expert Report in less than a week detailing the root causes of Gulfport’s SSOs, including the reasons for excessive I&I into the sewer system, inadequate cleaning, investigation and rehabilitation of the sewer system, hydraulic capacity limitations, and improper financial planning and asset management.  Mr. Draganchuk’s Expert Report recommended a remedy to alleviate Gulfport’s SSO problem.

Mr. Draganchuk then prepared a Rebuttal Report that included rebuttal responses to Gulfport’s experts and further evaluated the causes of Gulfport’s SSOs, its inadequate financial planning and asset management, and remedies to Gulfport’s SSO problem based on further documentation provided by Gulfport during discovery and deposition testimony of Gulfport’s sewer system staff and engineering consultants.  The Rebuttal Report included a detailed cost estimate for Mr. Draganchuk’s recommended remedy.

Mr. Draganchuk prepared affidavits in support of motions for summary judgment and in opposition to Gulfport’s motion to dismiss.  The affidavit in opposition to Gulfport’s motion to dismiss included analyses regarding the impact of rainfall patterns, magnitudes, and intensities on inflow and infiltration (I&I), the effect of rehabilitation work Gulfport had completed to date on reducing I&I, and the potential for sewage exfiltration from Gulfport’s sewer system into its storm drain system and nearby waterways.

In May 2019, Mr. Draganchuk provided testimony at deposition in support of the expert opinions contained in his Expert and Rebuttal Reports.

In June 2019, SCWK, OCE, and ERF successfully negotiated a consent order with Gulfport requiring improvements to Gulfport’s sewer system to reduce or eliminate the occurrence of SSOs and protect the pristine waters of Boca Ciega Bay and the surrounding community.

Mr. Draganchuk currently assists SCWK, OCE, and ERF in compliance monitoring to ensure that Gulfport adheres to the requirements of the consent order.