Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Health Department Testing For Bacteria Along Beaches After Sewage Release

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Chris O'Meara/Associated Press
The Florida Channel
A woman takes a photo of flooded streets in the Shore Acres in St. Petersburg, Fla., Tuesday, June 7, 2016. Remnants of Tropical Storm Colin was continued to dump rain along Florida's gulf coast Tuesday.

When the sewer system in St. Petersburg became overwhelmed by rain from Tropical Storm Colin the city had to pump sewage into Tampa Bay.

St. Pete Beach had the same problem and pumped sewage into Boca Ciega Bay.

If any of that sewage makes it to the beaches, the Pinellas County Health Department can detect it through its beach monitoring program.

The Health department was out on Monday and again on Wednesday testing water at beaches along Pinellas’ coast for an organism in commonly found in human and animal waste.

“If any of the beaches test less than poor we will send out an alert, an advisory via the media to notify the community that there is a higher than average count of bacteria in the beach water,” said Maggie Hall, spokeswoman for the Pinellas County Health Department.

Hall said the health department should get the results by tomorrow afternoon and will post them on its website.

Wastewater systems have had a difficult time keeping up with rainfall in recent days as Tropical Storm Colin passed over the state, dropping up to 9 inches of rain in some places.

In a news release Tuesday, St. Petersburg Public Works Administrator Claude Tankersley said the partially treated sewage was pumped by a pipe about a quarter of a mile into the bay. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection was notified of the discharge.

The Associated Press contributed to this story. 

Julio Ochoa is editor of Health News Florida.