Reports from property owners located about 1/2 mile from the sinkhole itself indicate that a contractor had been using a vibratory compactor in a new subdivision, Parsons Wood, during the weeks preceding the collapse of the sinkhole under the home at 240 Faithway Dr., in Seffner. Parsons Wood is a K. Hovnanian Homes development, with several homes now under construction. This new subdivision is located about 1700 ft. in a straight line from the deadly sinkhole. Absent any analytics or subsurface geologic information, these two events appear to be unrelated, and apparently nothing more than an unexpected coincidence. Reports also indicate that the sinkhole property owner had a sinkhole survey/analysis performed sometime during the last couple of years with negative results.
What is more curious, however, is the fact that this area of Seffner is riddled with asbestos-cement water mains, about which articles have been previously published. We should note here that asbestos-cement pipe has a working life of around 20 to 30 years in ground, and these old water mains have been in the ground in Seffner for about 50 years. At this advanced age, the pipes are extremely brittle [as in egg shell fragile], and may burst open spontaneously from the water pressure inside the pipes. The possibility that one or more of these mains has cracked and has developed a slow leak in the area surrounding the sinkhole is certainly present. Perhaps these facts explain Hillsborough County's urgent actions to demolish the sinkhole property and fill the sinkhole with dirt before one of these asbestos-cement water mains is further weakened, cracks, and blows open, thus creating an out-of-control catastrophe which pulls down the adjacent neighborhood.
County Commissioners have been advised of the asbestos-cement water main situation in Hillsborough County on several occasions in the past, but at present there is no apparent plan or funding to address this issue.
Our sympathies go to County Administrator Mike Merrill, a former financial manager with no "public administration" degree as required by County Charter, and totally lacking any public works experience save that which he has obtained at his current job. Merrill's reaction to the sinkhole in Seffner has been quiet and controlled, but there is no sign of a County Water Dept. presence at the sinkhole site despite the adjacent water mains. It is possible that Merrill does not even know about the location of the nearest county water main, nor its material type.
We can only hope that the sinkhole situation is successfully closed, without further earth collapse and consequential damage. At this time it looks like the County's rental earthwork equipment is sitting right on top of a county water main as it demolishes the home.
Our sincerest sympathy goes to the family of the County employee whose life was lost in this tragic incident.