Century Responds To DEP Water System Warnings

February 19, 2024

The Town of Century has responded to a Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) warning letter that identified dozens of potential violations of Florida statutes and codes with their municipal water sytem.

The letter was sent to Mayor Luis Gomez, Jr. on January 30, following a January 11 sanitary survey inspection.

DEP also found that sampling, laboratory and other data was being falsified.  In the town’s resposnse, the town operator said, “there was no falseification…the previous day, I started my entry on the wrong date, stopped and move up the line above to the correct date. That is why it was not filled out completely. I did fail to cross it out and that is my fault. Correction going forward is that any mis-placed number will be crossed out a initialed by the operator.”

Findings included improper safety equipment and insufficient chlorine in the water, an emergency plan dated 2012, and  55-gallon drums stored in one well with an unknown substance for at least four years. The 55-gallon drums, for instance, contained food-grade oil that was previously used for well lubrication.

Smaller items such as a broken fence and missing or broken screens have been repaired sine the report. The response indicated that plans and procedures will be properly updated and executed in the future.

The town also has a $468,453.00 State Legislature allocation DEP to rehab well facilities and equipment that they say will address numerous issues.

Mayor Luis Gomez, Jr. said following the DEP warning letter that the water in Century is safe to drink.

The town council later voted to retain the Sunstrom and Mindlin law firm of Tallahassee to address issues with DEP. While the law firm did not write the responses (posted below), they have requested a meeting between DEP, consultant U.S. Water, the town and the law firm on Tuesday, March12.

For a photo gallery of many of the violations from DEP, click or tap here.

The Town of Century water system has  893 connections, most in or near the town limits.

The town operates three water wells, identified as follows:

  • Well 1 — Blackmon Street
  • Well 2 — Henry Street
  • Well 3 — Prison (primarily serving only the Century Correctional Institution)

A total of 35 deficiencies were found by DEP at the three wells, many of them repeat findings. Each finding is listed, followed by the town’s response as entered:

  1. Cross-Connection Plan – Cross Connection Control Plan DRAFT provided to the Department.
    1. #1 the cross connection plan is attached with the response
  2. C3 Inventory & Testing – At the time of the inspection, the most recent test results for all testable backflow prevention devices required at or for service connections per the systems Cross Connection Control Program were requested for review. No testing records were provided. In addition, the current inventory of backflow protection being required at or for service connections was requested for review. No documentation of inventory was provided.
    • #2 we will enforce the cross connection plan
  3. Lead & Copper Plan. Not available for review during inspection
    • #3 I am currently working on finding the lead and copper plan for the town we are also looking and making a new and updated plan
  4. Flow Meter – No record that the calibration of the finished-drinking-water flow meter has been checked. Flowmeter at Well 2 inoperable. Operator stated he is estimating flows at Well 2.
    • #4 I have installed a new meter at well 1 a picture is attached, the meter at well #2 is going to be replaced in the well rehab project, the bid opening for the well rehab project is on the 29th of February
  5. Safety Equipment – System does not have all required Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) safety equipment at all the plants, or on his person, and the equipment is not regularly tested/maintained according to manufacturers’ recommendations.
    • #5 the scba at wells is part of well rehab project
  6. Additional Safety Equipment – System does not have all the required safety equipment. All plants use quicklime, but none have eyewashes or safety showers/drench hoses.
    • #6 the eyewash stations are part of the well rehab project
  7. Security The fence at Well 1 in need of repair. The window to the well storage room at Well 1 is open when the building is unattended. The building/enclosure door(s), at Well 3 are broken and unable to close and lock. Also, glass door at Well 3 is shattered and in need of repair.
    • #7 the fence at well one has been repaired a picture is attached to response, the window is also closed at well one, the doors at well 3 are being replaced as part of the well rehab project
  8. The Emergency Preparedness/Response Plan provided for review during the onsite was outdated. The plan provided was dated 2012 and the most up-to-date revision of the plan was requested for review.
    • #8 the emergency response plan names and dates are being updated should have done by end of the week
  9. Monthly Operation Report(s) (MORs) not being submitted.
    • #9 All the MORs are up to date and have been submitted
  10. Auxiliary Power – Auxiliary power is not being properly exercised.
    • #10 well generators have been exercised regularly, the dates of operation are shown in the log book at well 1.. We are now using a separate log book for this
  11. Flushing Plan -No written program and no records documenting flushing of 6″ and larger dead-end water mains
    • #11 a flushing plan will be sent to you by end of week
  12. Isolation Valve Exercising – No record of valve exercising for 2022 and 2023. Records indicate valve exercising has not been performed since 2021. System valve exercise plan indicates exercising will be conducted once a year.
    • #12 we are going to exercise are valves yearly according to the plan
  13. Elevated Storage Tanks for Well 1, 2 & 3 Elevated Storage Tank is due for a washout and full 5-year inspection for structural and coating integrity.
    • #13 I will need time to coordinate with tank contractors and also with construction crews with well rehab project to make sure the town does not run out of water. This will take some time please allow me three months to get everything lined up and together
  14. Insufficient recordkeeping Required System Records are Unavailable.
    • #14 we will print the records listed and have on site
  15. No operation and maintenance (O&M) manuals available for Well 2, or Well 3. At Well 1 inspector noted the O&M manuals were extremely weather-damaged and infested with mold. Each Drinking water treatment plant shall have an up-to date O&M manual. The manual shall contain operation and control procedures, and preventive maintenance and repair procedures, for all plant equipment and shall be made available for reference at the plant or at a convenient location near the plant. Bound and indexed equipment manufacturer manuals shall be considered sufficient to meet the requirements of this subsection. O&M manuals were not provided for review during the onsite inspection.
    • #14 we will print the records listed and have on site
  16. Well 1 – Four 55-gallon drums on-site for at least 4 years with unknow substance. Sanitary hazard (does not meet setback requirements).
    • #16 the drums were confirmed by Layne to be food grade oil and have been removed from the site
  17. Well 1 – Well casing is cracked, not sealed, improperly sealed, or improperly vented. Well drop pipe is not properly encased, well drop pipe is resting directly on the well casing, gap at the wellhead and sanitary seal, sanitary seal has unplugged holes. Well piping supported by cinder blocks, and rotting wood-not sealed properly.
    • #17we will address this in well rehab project
  18. Well 1 visible signs of excessive corrosion
    • #18 all piping and fittings will either be replaced or painted during rehab project
  19. Well 1 visible signs of excessive lime spillage
    • #19 the lime around the well at well #1 is accumulated around it since the well was built there are no drains on site for it to go currently. In the well rehab project a lime sump is planned to be installed as well as side walks around the building I believe will address these issues
  20. Well 1 – At the time of the inspection, it was noted that the mesh screen on the air release valve on discharge line has a tear/hole.
    • #20 all screens have been replaced, pictures are attached
  21. Well 1 Loss of chlorine was not telemetered to the operator. During inspection, there was no free chlorine residual at the plant. The operator was not notified of the outage.
    • #21 after investigation of issue, we found the vacTron system at well one needed replacing. I am currently working on this and have aqua products lined up to address the issue
  22. Well 1-Gas chlorine plant was not functioning. Lime injection point clogged/not functioning.
    • #22 was addressed on the day of the inspection
  23. Well 1 Gas chlorine scales not provided.
    • #23 scales are being replaced in rehab project
  24. Well 1 and Remote Location Inadequate Chlorine Residual During the inspection, the free chlorine residual, measured at Well 1 and one remote location within the distribution system, was below the minimum required level of 0.2 mg/L. Department personnel conducted additional sampling on 1/24/2024.
    • #24 we are replacing the loss of cl systems as stated response 21, Aqua products is addressing the issues will send pictures after installation
  25. Well 1 Monitoring & Reporting Data Validation. Falsification of sampling, laboratory, or other data. During the inspection the daily log sheet at Well 1 was pre-filled by the operator with sampling results prior to conducting sampling analysis.
    • #25 there was no falsification. the previous day,I started my entry on the wrong date, stopped and move up the line above to the correct date. That is why it was not filled out completely. I did fail to cross it out and that is my fault. Correction going forward is that any mis-placed number will be crossed out a initialed by the operator
  26. Well 1 and Well 2 – gas chlorine room ventilation fan is non-functional.
    • #26 ventilation fans are proposed for all three wells in rehab project
  27. Well 1 and Well 2 Audio-Visual Alarm – No audio-visual alarm for loss of chlorine residual or chlorination capability. No audio-visual alarm for power failure at site where standby power is required.
    • #27 we have installed omni beacon call out systems that will address these issues
  28. Well 2 – Chlorine booster pump leaking
    • #28 the plumbing going into the pipe was leaking we have repaired the leak
  29. Well 2 – Inspector noted the pump to waste valve malfunctioned and unable to close resulting in excessive water loss.
    • #29 the valve has been replaced, a picture is attached
  30. Elevated Storage Tank #1 at Well 1 – Mesh screen shows visible sign of debris. Elevated Storage Tank #2 at Well 3 – The finished water storage is missing the screen on the overflow pipe. The overflow is not at 12 to 24 inches above the ground surface, downward facing, and no drainage inlet structure or splash plate for the discharge is present.
    • #30 the screen has been cleaned and/or replaced at well 1 and 2. the drainage line has been removed and overflow has been screened, picture is attached
  31. Booster Pump to Tank 3 leaking
    • #31as stated during inspection Layne has pulled the pump and the town is in the process of making repairs
  32. During inspection Department was unable to view/retrieve Well 3 Logbook although the Well is inactive
    • #32 a log book has been placed at well 3 that has been out of service for over a year and I will visit the site everyday and log the well is out of service
  33. Operator Required Visits – Operator not making the required number of visits to the plants
    • the log book at well one shows the daily visits. I was unaware I had to check the sites if not being ran. I logged the days I ran the well in log books. I’m correcting this by going by all well sights even if they are not in operation
  34. Missed Monitoring – Missed 1st set of Lead & Copper sampling; missed annual Disinfection Byproducts; Nitrate/Nitrite monitoring; late submittal for Triennial Sampling for Chemical Monitoring for 2023, missed monitoring for the 2nd set of Synthetic Organic Contaminants.
    • #34 the town is going to sample as directed by dep for lead and copper in 2024
  35. Precautionary Boil Water Notice – Failure to notify DEP PBWN 1/17/24, within 24 hours of the occurrence.
    • we did sample and post boil water notice at time of break. we will do better at notifying Dep in a more timely fashion when an incident occurs

For a photo gallery of many of the violations from FDEP, click or tap here.

FDEP Photos/NorthEscambia.com graphics, click to enlarge.


7 Responses to “Century Responds To DEP Water System Warnings”

  1. Local on February 19th, 2024 11:30 pm

    It’s time something is done about this town of Century.

  2. Concerned Citizen on February 19th, 2024 10:42 pm

    Let the County enforce eminent domain laws and take over the Town of Century. Fire everyone that was in any way responsible for these violations. Let the other interview for ECUA positions, as ECUA should take over.

  3. Rod Persons on February 19th, 2024 3:56 pm

    Gross incompetence and outright negligence! Operator(s) should be terminated as they obviously do not know how to correctly and safely operate a municipal water treatment facility. The wastewater treatment facility is a shambles and I would truly be concerned regarding the effluent entering Escambia River. Where is the County Health Department enforcement and inspections?

  4. Plain country on February 19th, 2024 2:40 pm

    Makes me wonder if the sewage out fall from the sewage plant in Century, going into Escambia river is out of compliance.

  5. EMD on February 19th, 2024 12:53 pm

    Good grief! Sounds like this town is overwhelmed with incompetence. Is there anything that is done right there, or does someone need to step in and run things? I have never heard of anyplace run like this place. Sounds like the people there are on their own. So sad.

  6. John on February 19th, 2024 11:17 am

    I wish the state would take over Century fire every one in the town council clean house it’s a joke here

  7. Oversight on February 19th, 2024 11:04 am

    With this large number of FDEP inspection discrepancies, it is apparent that nobody responsible for the town’s water department prepared for it. The inspection criteria is available. With that said, all good proactive managers, supervisors, and leaders take initiative because they want to get ahead of inspections. Review the inspection check-list ahead of time, correct deficiencies, and be ready to present in a professional manner. Using the seven “p’s” of prior, proper, planing, prevents, piss, poor, performance will help to avoid embarrassing results.