Mayor Kriseman: Heavy rain, construction work to blame for 50,000-gallon stormwater spill in St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — An overflow of stormwater at the Southwest Water Reclamation Facility has St. Pete residents feeling skeptical about the city’s sewer issues.

The fast-moving nature of the plug flow of water caused 50,000 gallons of treated chlorinated water to spill from the chlorine contact chamber. The spill occurred on the SWWRF plant site where it was fully contained on site in the storm water containment pond, according to city officials.

Officials say the chlorine contact chamber was temporarily taken offline for construction purposes.

“On Wednesday, the contractor took half of it down in order to replace an upgrade, a part in that chamber, as part of our overall upgrade of the entire system,” said Mayor Rick Kriseman.

Kriseman says it left the system semi-operational to only handle a certain amount of rainfall.

“What was unfortunate is, that the day it was taken offline we got an intense rain storm. Had that storm hit Tuesday night, there wouldn’t have been an issue,” said Kriseman.

Kriseman says the system should have the capacity to handle tropical storm type rain falls by August.

On Tuesday, Mayor Kriseman and city leaders celebrated a new injection well and filtration system at the site, which will be able to store and treat more wastewater.

Mayoral candidate, Rick Baker, says Albert Whitted Treatment Plant is key to helping the city’s sewer issues.

“I think had he reopened it after the first spill of 2015, we would have significantly reduced the problems we had in 2016 and every day that goes by, that he refuses to reopen it, it increases the likely hood, that we’ll have more spills in the city,” said Baker.

News Channel 8 asked Baker why some of the sewer issues weren’t addressed when he was mayor.

He responded, ”When I was mayor, we invested a $160 million into the water and sewer capital infrastructure of the city and by the time I had been mayor for six years, we were named the best-maintained sewer system in the state of Florida.”

City officials said they had no reports of discharges of raw or untreated wastewater anywhere in our system.

In consulting with Construction Manager Haskell, they are closely evaluating the event to determine how we will manage future fast-moving, short-term flows through our plant while it is under construction.

Officials said the equipment has been put back online until the forecast is better to work on it.


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