Keeping Sewage Out Of Florida's Waterways

Originally published on August 13, 2019 4:26 pm

This week on Florida Matters we talk about what communities are doing to keep from releasing sewage and other contaminants into our local waterways. Part of the problem comes from aging wastewater and stormwater systems. 

We hear from Claude Tankersly, Public Works Administrator for the City of St. Petersburg. He talks about how the city has improved its infrastructure following massive spills in Tampa Bay a few years ago, and provides insight into challenges communities across the state face maintaining their sewage systems.

RELATED: Report: 3 Tampa Bay Cities Responsible For Wastewater Spills

We also talk with Josh Salman, a GateHouse Media investigative reporter based at the Sarasota Herald Tribune. He wrote a story in April that took a comprehensive look at sewage spills in Florida.

The investigation found about 1.6 billion gallons of wastewater had been released into our state's waters over the last decade. It also cited the Tampa Bay area as spilling ten times more sewage than Miami-Dade during that ten-year period.

RELATED: Sarasota County Spills Millions Of Gallons Of Wastewater Into Area Wetlands

Our guests said more funding is necessary to update and maintain Florida’s wastewater and stormwater systems, and that more preventative action should be taken rather than waiting for spills and other accidents to happen.

We also learn citizens contribute to the problem more than they realize by dumping grease down drains and flushing wipes and other items that may technically be flushable but cause problems for wastewater systems. Panelists encourage Floridians to throw away these items in the garbage instead.