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Mayor Proposes $304M Plan To Stop St. Petersburg Sewage Spills

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Suzanne Young
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has rolled out a plan that he hopes will keep more sewage from flowing into Tampa Bay.

The plan has two parts with two price tags. The short-term fix will cost $45 million to increase capacity for treatment and storage at the city's Southwest and Northwest water treatment plants. Those plants caused more than 200 million gallons of sewage to spill during Hurricane Hermine.

The money, which will come from bonds, will also be used to repair aging sewage pipes and develop a master plan for future improvements.

Kriseman said the city hopes to have the most needed improvements in place by August or September of next year.

“Once this work is done if we have an event that is the equivalent of Hermine, we should have the capacity,” Kriseman said.

The second part of the plan would be complete by 2021 and cost $259 million. The money would be used for more enhancements at the water treatment plants, more repairs to sewage pipes and manhole covers and to implement parts of the master plan.

The city would have to increase taxes or use additional bonds to pay for the repairs.

What's missing is a plan to reopen the Albert Whitted wastewater facility, which closed in 2015 and caused a drop in capacity, leading to the sewage spills.

Kriseman says that idea was tabled after the cost of that part of the project tripled to $30 million.

“Our primary objective is to put ourselves in a position where we minimize the risk of discharges and the best way for us to do that, the quickest way for us to do that is to do the expansion of the southwest plant and the northwest plant,” he said.

Julio Ochoa is editor of Health News Florida.