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Sinkhole opens under Busch Gardens wastewater pond, dumps 2.5 million gallons below

Theme park employees discovered the spill and sinkhole in the early morning hours on Nov. 18. Now, a professional geologist is monitoring the situation.

TAMPA — A sinkhole recently opened under a wastewater treatment pond at Busch Gardens, dumping an estimated 2.5 million gallons of treated wastewater into the earth below, according to state environmental regulators and a theme park spokesperson.

Busch Gardens employees discovered the 15-foot-by-15-foot sinkhole in the early morning hours Nov. 18. The sinkhole opened in the last of a train of three ponds used in the park’s on-site wastewater treatment process, according to Brian Humphreys, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

After finding the sinkhole, Busch Gardens closed a low dam connecting the second and third treatment pond, but not before enough wastewater to fill nearly four Olympic swimming pools dumped to the ground below. That dam between ponds remained closed as of Friday, Humphreys said.

The wastewater pond with the sinkhole is located a few hundred feet northwest of the popular water ride Congo River Rapids, according to coordinates of the spill provided by the park.