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Water-Related News

State could fine Pinellas County Utilities $10,000 for 300,000-gallon raw sewage spill

The July spill sent dirty wastewater spewing into an unincorporated Pinellas County neighborhood.

Pinellas County Utilities could be required to either pay $10,000 or agree to complete an environmental enhancement project after a July sewage spill spread 300,000 gallons of untreated wastewater throughout a Pinellas County neighborhood.

A typical summer Sunday morning was ruined with filthy water, sandbags and insurance adjusters after a pipe running through the neighborhood near the intersection of 53rd Avenue North and 110th Street burst.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection told the Tampa Bay Times in July that the agency would determine if the South Cross Bayou Advanced Water Reclamation Facility had violated regulations. Now, a spokesperson says a penalty will be delivered in a quarterly letter in the coming weeks.

The penalty for spills that exceed more than 100,000 gallons is $10,000 per day, according to state environmental records. The spill in Pinellas County averaged roughly 18 gallons per second for 4½ hours, meaning the county is on the hook now for $10,000. Either the utility pays the fine or elects to complete an improvement project at 1½ times the cost, said state environmental spokesperson Brian Humphreys.