ST. PETERSBURG — A contractor broke a pipe that resulted in about 120,000 gallons of reclaimed water being released on Wednesday, according to city officials.
The discharge lasted about 20 minutes, officials said, and took place at about noon during work on a storm drainage project near 34th Avenue and Poplar Street NE.
Most of the reclaimed water went into Smacks Bayou, officials said, which is near Placido Bayou and leads into the Tampa Bay. No water was contained at the site itself.
"This is reclaimed, fully treated water," public works spokesman Bill Logan said. "It's the same thing people sprinkle on their lawns that then goes into the streets and storm drains.
"It's not a big deal. But we are testing the water. It's part of the protocol and that's what we're doing."
Reclaimed water has been fully treated with chemicals such as ammonia, chlorine, phosphorus and nitrate and is safe to use on lawns. However, those chemicals are harmful to marine life, which is why state law prohibits releasing reclaimed water into surface waters.
Logan said the city goes above and beyond reporting measures to make sure residents are notified any time something is discharged into the water.
The city's environmental compliance division will take samples from nearby bodies of water to determine if the discharge had any impact. The results will be posted at www.stpete.org/water/waterquality.php.
This was the second reclaimed water spill in two days, both of which were caused by contractors working near pipes.
On Tuesday, nearly 3,000 gallons of reclaimed water spilled into a canal that leads to Boca Ciega Bay after a construction crew punctured a pipe at the Southwest Water Reclamation Facility near Eckerd College. Most of that spill was contained on site.
Logan said the city will evaluate both incidents to see what went wrong and how to work with contractors in the future to avoid similar accidents.
Many of the pipes, such as stormwater, potable water and reclaimed water, overlay each other, Logan said, which can complicate construction and contract work.
"Obviously the contractors are going to be reminded that cooperation and communication are very important," he said.