Sewage spill update from St. Pete mayor

sewage dump sign St. Petersburg Gulfport Florida
Sign posted at Boca Ciega Bay in August 2015 after a wastewater dump following a heavy rain event. By Seán Kinane / WMNF News.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman updated City Council Thursday about the massive dump of stormwater and partially treated and untreated sewage during Tropical Storm Hermine; Kriseman updated media Friday morning before an unrelated press conference.


          “The update is, as a result of last night’s meeting, we are, as quickly as we can, moving forward with the external investigation to try and figure out when was that report and why was that report ordered, who saw that report, but, most importantly why council didn’t see that report and why I didn’t see that report until it just came out this month.

“In addition, we are going to, through our procurement process, going to be expediting the work on the project itself. We’re gonna go from 5 days a week to 7 days a week. We’ve got a staffer, that’s in procurement, that’s going to be doing nothing but water resources, so that doesn’t get delayed in the procurement process.”

So, you plan on spending $60 million dollars in the next year? Is that right? What’s the timeline for what people might see?

“So, we’re gonna be putting out a formal timeline of the projects that are gonna be encompassed in that money. Within the next couple of weeks you’ll see that timeline come out. But, it’s going to be going toward–some of it will be going toward–relining the pipes and starting the process of increasing the capacity at the plant.

“Then, over the next 5 years, in water resources, we’ve got almost $230 million total budgeted. We’re gonna be doing, I believe it’s $8 million a year, for the next 10 years on pipes, but, we also have to address the laterals. That is a real problem. We get a lot of intrusion through the laterals. If we don’t address the laterals and all we’re doing is pipes, then we’re still gonna have an issue.

“We also hope that the other communities that we service will do some work in their communities because it’s hard for us to process their waste when we’re getting more of their waste than we need.”

Question from reporter: “Could you talk about the bringing Albert Whitted back on line? That issue.”

“Yeah, so it’s really–that’s a decision that we’ve said to council we’d like direction from you on. The consultants’ report indicated that they weren’t necessarily supportive of that because of the cost of it and the time it would take would be better spent increasing the capacity at the other plants. But, if that’s the direction that council wants to go, we’re willing to do it.

“The timeline; fully on line, fully meeting DEP requirements, is roughly 4 years. So, again that’s a long time. But, there are things that we’re looking at doing, short term, to increase capacity and our ability to do things, even if it’s fully on line at Albert Whitted.”

Question from reporter: “And is there still a concern, if you have another storm, you’re gonna have “back to square one” releases into Tampa Bay because it just can’t handle it?”

“Yeah, I’m not gonna sit here–and I think any politician who sits and says: ‘I guarantee you we will never disperse again in the bay.’ I think they’re lying to you if they tell you that, because we can’t control the volume of rain.

“What you heard from our Public Works Director is it isn’t a sewage problem, it’s an intrusion and rain problem.

“We have the capacity to treat all the sewage that we currently have and that’s projected with the growth that we have. What we don’t have is the capacity to deal with all the rain water and because of rising tides and groundwater infiltration, we don’t have the capacity for that.

“So, yeah I’m concerned about that and we’re gonna do everything we can to mitigate it.”


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