Gainesville Regional Utilities faces a lower fine for July’s nearly 1-million gallon sewage spill compared to a much smaller spill in 2005.
According to GRU, a 900,000-gallon sewage spill occurred in July. A second spill of 58,000 gallons happened in August, and GRU now faces a $7,750 fine.
After the 2005 spill totaling 140,000 gallons, GRU was fined $10,000.
In 2005, spills were measured by volume per day. Regulations stated any spill more than 100,000 gallons resulted in a $10,000 fine.
Now, each spill is a $5,000 fine under the Environmental Litigation Reform Act, said Mara Burger, spokesperson for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
FDEP sent GRU a consent order outlining the fines that must be accepted or modified by Nov. 27.
GRU was originally fined $10,000. Fines were lowered to $7,500 for civil penalties and $250 for costs from the FDEP.
Burger said GRU showed a “good face effort after discovery” by mobilizing its forces to clean up the spill. This resulted in the 25 percent reduction from the original $10,000 fine.
GRU can also avoid paying the penalties by creating an “in-kind penalty project or a pollution prevention project” outlined in the consent order.
The project would have to raise one and a half times the civil penalties, totaling $11,250, within 30 days of the approved consent order.
FDEP’s consent order also created a project to ensure functioning valves and help prevent spills of this nature in the future.