Pinellas leaders calling for sewage summit to discuss wastewater dumping

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – Business is a bit slow these days at the waterfront marina in Gulfport. Signs advise people the surface water is contaminated and to not play, swim or fish in the area.

Ismeal Rios works for a boat and jet ski rental company.

“Due to the water being contaminated, I just found out it’s clean right now but it pushes people away, definitely jet skies,” Rios said. “When they call, we have to tell them it’s contaminated, we can’t let you out. So it kind of pushes business away.”

St. Petersburg has been dumping partially treated wastewater into Tampa Bay for days following Tropical Storm Hermine. St. Petersburg City Council members were briefed about the waste water dump on Thursday, but the head of public works is still not able to estimate how much wastewater has been discharged into the bay.

State Representative Kathleen Peters is calling for a meeting of the Pinellas delegation with local leaders to talk about wastewater problems in the area.

“The data that is coming in clearly shows that we’ve got issues across the entire county because the county itself was dumping, Tarpon Springs, Dunedin, Largo,” Peters said.

Peters says the discharge is harmful to the area.

“The bacterial levels are so high that we are closing beaches and we have to protect our citizens,” said Peters.

She is also disappointed the city of St. Petersburg has released little information about the wastewater discharge to the public.

“Absolutely they should be letting us know because those citizens need to know,” said Peters. “Because just like I get on my paddle board and I go out in the water and my grandchildren are out in the water, we need to know if it’s safe or not and they don’t necessarily test right there,”

State Senator Jack Latvala joined with Peters in calling for a local meeting and has set a date of Sept. 20 to discuss the sewage issue.

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