St. Petersburg residents seek reassurance there won't be a summer sewage sequel
About two dozen residents spent Monday evening quizzing city officials about planned work on the sewer system in a forum that distilled the fears and confusion of a city bracing for the coming rainy season.
At issue was a state consent order that is being finalized in the wake of the recent sewage crisis: St. Petersburg discharged 200 million gallons of sewage onto land and water during the heavy rains of the past two summers. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection order, which should be agreed upon by mid-April, would compel the city to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to fix its ailing sewer system.
That would help the city avoid up to $810,000 in state penalties.
"We can't afford to kick this can down the block anymore and let someone else handle it," Public Works Department spokesman Bill Logan told the forum at the Lake Vista Recreation Center.
City officials detailed the work being undertaken on the city's 937 miles of pipes to reduce the amount of stormwater seeping into them. They explained how new injection wells at the Southwest and Northwest wastewater treatment plants should help the city dispose of treated sewage by pumping it deep underground. And they outlined massive projects to expand capacity at the city's three remaining sewer plants (closing the Albert Whitted plant in 2015 helped precipitate the sewage crisis.)