Rain and aging sewer system contribute to St. Pete sewage overflow problem

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – A huge amount of rain and an aging sewer system are contributing to a major environmental problem for the city of St. Petersburg. The head of public works for the city briefed St. Petersburg City Council members on the issue Thursday afternoon.

RELATED: Pinellas Utilities warns of possible raw sewage in floodwaters; asks customers to reduce water use

Claude Tankersly says because of tropical storm Hermine, 15 inches of rain fell on the city in just four days. Over the past 37 days, Tankersly says 24 inches of rain have fallen on the city and 56 inches of rain have fallen so far this year. The average yearly rainfall for St. Petersburg is 45 inches.

Tankersly says the ground is saturated and because of this leaks are occurring in the underground sewer pipes. Tankersly told city council members because of this the city has been forced to discharge partially treated wastewater into the bay.

Tankersly told council members the exact total of the discharge is not known because meters that monitor the flow of wastewater were bi-passed during Hermine in order to treat more wastewater.
Barbara Banno is a small business owner in Gulfport and says the discharge of wastewater is hurting the bay and business.

“It has a huge impact because people know that we are a waterfront community and if they are aware there is raw sewage going on, this is not someplace that they are going to want to come and shop at our shops, eat at our restaurants or rent the kayaks and utilize the beautiful Clam Bayou that we have,” Banno said.

Frank Jackalone is with the Sierra Club in Florida and says the discharge of wastewater is extremely harmful to the bay.

“If they have to continue to release dirty water, sewage water into Tampa Bay then we’re going to lose the Bay,” said Jackalone.

City Council members questioned Tankersly for more than an hour on Thursday about the issue. Council Chairman Amy Foster told him the discharge is unacceptable but is the result of years of not keeping up with projects to deal with the problem.

WFLA.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s