St. Pete official says city sewer system needs upgrades

ST. PETERSBURG, FL (WFLA) – A St. Petersburg city leader said he wants to make upgrades to their sewer system before another storm hits.

This after storage facilities were overwhelmed during Tropical Storm Colin. The impact affected nearby communities. Because of the inability for the system to work, runoff from discharged sewer water seeped into Clam Bayou in Gulfport. The water is off limits, after test showed high levels of E.Coli and fecal pollution.

This is the second time Clam Bayou has gone under a water advisory within the last year. Last summer, St. Petersburg dumped untreated or partially treated sewage waste water into Clam Bayou.

Bright orange signs that read “surface water is contaminated”, were posted around Clam Bayou Nature Park Thursday. A major blow to Kurt Zuelsdorf’s Kayak business.

“Now I’m closed. I can’t put people out on the water. It’s a great day to go out for a hike, or bike ride and hopefully in the next few days, this will all flush out, but we don’t know. It’s really hard to determine that,” said Zuelsdorf.

The test showed the water has high levels of E. Coli and fecal pollution. Gulfport City leaders said it’s from discharges after Tropical Storm Colin.

“We do have some discharges. The City of Gulfport, the City of St. Petersburg, we both acknowledge that the system discharged into Boca Ciega Bay,” said Gulfport City Manager Jim O’Reiley.

Thursday, St. Pete city leaders discussed a potential solution. Their sewer system became inundated during the storm. The city had to dump partially treated sewer water into Tampa Bay.

“We were lead to believe that these new deep well injection pumps and this new 15 million gallon tank and we continued to use Albert Whitted collectively, that would put us in pretty good shape and the answer is, it didn’t,” said St. Petersburg councilman Karl Nurse.

Councilman Nurse wants to propose using money from three different sources to fix leaks, pipes and manhole covers.

An 18-month study is underway. Zuelsdorf said that’s too long of a wait. He said, “In this day and age, I would think we would be able to come up with better solutions to having sewage overflow and spill into our waterways in Florida.”

Councilman Nurse estimates it could cost $100 million to fix the system. He’d like council members to move on the issue, especially while in hurricane season. He worries about the potential impact if another storm like Tropical Storm Colin forms. Gulfport City leaders said they will test the water every day until it’s all clear.

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