Collier residents recount sewage smell post-Irma; officials work to solve problem


Jason Veselica moved into his home two weeks before Hurricane Irma hit Southwest Florida. When he returned from his evacuation spot, he came back to another problem.

“There was sewage in the streets, the property management was telling us to not play in the water it’s not safe, it’s nasty, it’s not flood water,” Veselica said.

Elizabeth Lawrence said the smell was horrible.

“You could smell it in your house … you could smell it in your drains,” Lawrence said.

When the power went out, the pumps failed, and that’s what caused the problem plaguing parts of Collier County.

“It stunk it was horrible,” Veselica said.

Commissioners are taking steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“We did dishes with buckets of water, (and we) couldn’t use any of the plumbing; it really created a rough life,” Veselica said.

More than 400 pumps in Collier County’s wastewater system are privately owned.

Commissioners met recently to discuss the owners of these pumps to consistently provide reports to the county, as well as be subject to multiple inspections.

“Anything we can do to get ahead of the game … we live in an area that’s prone to this … so anything we can do to better ourselves is only good,” Veselica said.

Commissioners will bring their plan to a meeting in the near future for public comment.

They’ve already committed to adding more back up generators to pump stations in order to keep them pumping in the event the power goes out.

They’re hoping to have more than 50 of them in the next few years.

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