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Florida says another Piney Point wastewater release is possible

If that happens, the Department of Environmental Protection says the discharge should be less contaminated.

More wastewater from the old Piney Point fertilizer plant site might be released into Tampa Bay if rain pushes reservoirs to the brink of capacity.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection says the water would be dumped to avert further catastrophe at the property — the same rationale the state gave when it allowed the owner to release 215 million gallons of wastewater into the bay this spring. Officials said they wanted to avoid a collapse at Piney Point spewing a flood into the area surrounding the Manatee County site.

But the agency says if there is a next time, the discharge should not be as polluted. Contractors have been treating water at Piney Point, according to the state, reducing the levels of nitrogen and phosphorus that could end up in the bay.

The Tampa Bay Times this week asked the agency to explain its plans for a possible release as well as what has been done to treat and manage polluted water since the April discharge. The state has not answered several of the Times’ questions directly, but did release more information in an updated document with frequently asked questions about the Piney Point situation.