Collier County to add more generators for pump stations to prevent flooding

Reporter: Taylor Smith Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Generators for pump station in Collier County. Credit: WINK News.

Collier County is making sure people never have to see raw sewage on its streets again. This happened when Hurricane Irma hit Southwest Florida in 2017.

The Amberton Townhomes community in Collier County was among those flooded four years ago after the storm.

Collier County Board of County Commissioners approved more funding for the county’s $4.8 million project to receive more backup generators to place at pump stations.

In case a storm rolls in this season, streets won’t be flooded with waste again.

“Streets were flooded … a few trees fell down, and we lost power for a couple of days,” Barbra McElwaine said.

When Irma ripped through in 2017, it left power outages across Southwest Florida. It also brought along some sewage problems.

“It did kind of smell,” McElwaine said.

The hurricane caused pump stations in the Amberton Townhomes community to bubble up and overflow with sewage, leaving people such as McElwaine not being able to flush her toilet or drink her water.

“It could be a health hazard,” McElwaine said.

That’s why commissioners approved funding for new generators to back up the stations if they lose power.

“That constructs 14 permanent generators onsite at 14 critical pump stations throughout the county,” said Tom Chmelik, the public utilities project manager.

Permanent generators will be placed at locations such as hospitals, nursing homes and schools that act as shelters.

“They are a very high priority,” Chmelik said. “We don’t want the power going out and losing service there. That’s why those sites are permanent.”

Collier county has more than 900 pump stations. By 2022, county leaders are hoping to have 238 pieces of equipment to handle the storms.

Irma survivors are very thankful the county is prepared for the worst.

“I am glad they are doing it,” McElwaine said. “It is worth it, and it’s the sales tax that was worth it.”

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