LYNN HAVEN, Fla. (WMBB) -On May 5, 2022, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection was notified that Lynn Haven utility staff at the water treatment plant discharged 500,000 gallons of chlorinated potable water into the stormwater system while disinfecting it.

“We lowered that tank level in the process of draining it to refill it and that’s when chlorine of about 1.3 milligrams per liter was released into the stormwater system,” Lynn Haven Public Utilities Director Greg Kidwell said. “The tanks are designed, engineered, and permitted to do these activities.”

This procedure is normal after maintenance work inside of the tanks.

The FDEP requires ground storage tanks to be inspected by an engineer, cleaned, and serviced every five years.

The most recent inspection uncovered some structural issues, prompting the repairs.

Afterward, workers disinfected the tanks, then tested for bacteria.

“During this process, we received a call that there were some fish in the bay that had died,” Kidwell said. “We immediately stopped and then started procedures to dilute what was released and also eliminate the chlorine that was there.”

Kidwell said crews also diluted the dumped water with well water to further drop the chlorine levels.

He said the department has now made procedural changes to prevent this from happening again.

“We now have a new standard operating procedure in place,” Kidwell said. “We actually go out and test the chlorine in the ditches just to make sure we don’t have any further incidents.”

Lynn Haven Public Utilities workers have resumed draining the tanks without incident.

FDEP is still investigating and has a meeting with Lynn Haven Public Utilities on May 31.

Depending on the outcome, they could require the city to take additional steps and could impose some penalties.