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Heavy Rains Cause Sewage Problems Again In St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg violated its permit to pump treated watewater into injection wells on Saturday.
Julio Ochoa/WUSF
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

St. Petersburg again is facing problems over its ability to treat sewage during big storms.

The city violated its permit to pump treated wastewater into injection wells on Saturday. In a notification to the state, St. Petersburg officials reported pumping 6.6 million gallons of wastewater into the acquirer through injection wells.

The wastewater did not meet the state’s pollution standards because it contained too many suspended solids. The state standard is less than 5 milligrams per liter and St. Petersburg released water containing up to 50 milligrams per liter, according to the volition notice.

The problems happened at the Southwest Water Reclamation Facility near Eckerd College.

Heavy rainfall overwhelmed the city’s sewage system and it began diverting water to holding tanks. But construction at the plant has impacted the city’s ability to divert and hold water and at 5:50 p.m. the flow exceeded capacity.

The partially treated wastewater was pumped into the injection wells for about 4 ½ hours before it was brought into compliance.

The water was pumped deep into the Florida Aquifer where it is not a danger to drinking water, according to a release from the city.

But the state adopted the stronger regulations in 2005 to prevent contamination.    

The city’s Southwest Water Reclamation Facility is the same facility that had issues in 2015 and 2016 when hundreds of millions of gallons were released into Tampa Bay.

After those violations, the city signed a consent order with the state and agreed to spend $326 million on improvements to its wastewater treatment facilities.

Copyright 2019 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Julio Ochoa is editor of Health News Florida.
Julio Ochoa
Julio Ochoa is editor of Health News Florida.