Downpours from Hurricane Hermine forced wastewater facilities in at least 15 communities around the Tampa Bay area to release millions of gallons of sewage onto residential streets and into water bodies over a seven day period that ended Tuesday.
St. Petersburg and Pinellas County were the biggest offenders, releasing a combined 27 million gallons of partially treated sewage into Tampa Bay and other bodies of water.
But smaller communities such as Brooksville and Tarpon Springs had thousands of gallons of raw sewage overflow from manholes onto residential streets, according to the Department of Environmental Protection.
In Largo, 4.7 million gallons of raw sewage overflowed on Aug. 31, reports show.
The DEP says the releases are necessary to keep sewage from backing up into people's homes. The agency is working with municipalities to solve the problem, but it takes time, a spokeswoman said.
Spills that are more than 1,000 gallons must be reported to the DEP. As of Tuesday, the agency had received 44 notifications.