ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – During Hermine, waste water leaked into Tampa Bay. Since then, many Saint Petersburg residents have had questions as to how and why that happened. Saturday the city’s wastewater treatment plants had an open house and gave tours to explain how sewage got into the water.
Up a flight of stairs and to a waste water tank was the best way to explain why waste water got into Tampa Bay.
“Anything that you flush down in your toilet or put in your drain, comes into your plant and the operator has to deal with it,” said one of the tour guides.
On any given day 15 million gallons of wastewater travels to the plant. During Hermine much more was flowing in.
“We’re trying to treat 150 million during a storm. That means that that much water got into our system from these storms and it overwhelmed our capacity to treat it,” Claude Tankersley said.
Those on the tour got to see that these tanks can only hold so much water, further explaining the excess water had to go somewhere.
“We tried to treat it to the best quality we could and then try to dispose of it in a way that would minimize the impact to humans and to minimize the impact to the neighborhoods,” Tankersley said.
Treating water means flowing into the plant, going into a tank with microorganisms, going into another tank and being tested and bleached.
Just like treating water isn’t fast, fixing the problem won’t be fast either.
“Two years is what we would like to achieve to fix the short term issues but we’re going to have long term ongoing issues well have to plan for,” Tankersley said.
Workers at the plant plan to have more open houses and tours. They also want teachers to bring students to the facilities for field trips.