Millions of gallons of partly treated water injected into St. Pete aquifer during Hurricane Irma

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – There are more sewage issues in St. Pete. Millions of gallons of partly treated water were injected into the aquifer during Hurricane Irma.

This comes just two weeks out from the mayoral runoff between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker.

During Hurricane Irma, the holding tank at the Northeast water facility in St. Pete started to overflow and spilled 430 gallons of partially treated water on plant property.

“Our systems did have the capacity to handle that. The discharges that we had were really around the fact that our staff couldn’t go out during the storm and they had to sit on their hands and wait for these things to happen before they could go out and respond to it,” said John Palenchar, Interim Water Resources director.

When operators did respond, they switched the water from filling the tank to going into the injection well. More than 15 million gallons were dumped into the aquifer. Facility workers say it’ll cause no harm.

“One is thousands of feet underground in a salty, unusable part of the aquifer. The take home story is during a hurricane event, all of the utility facilities in Florida had issues and we all need to address them,” said Palenchar.

Mayor Kriseman says he plans to continue to address the sewage issue.

“Administration has invested in this, but they did the minimum they had to invest, we’re going to do more than that, because we have to do more than that,” said Kriseman.

News Channel 8 did reach out to Mayor Kriseman’s opponent, former St. Pete Mayor Rick Baker. So far, we have not heard back.

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