Tuesday, December 12, 2017
News Roundup

St. Petersburg's Northwest sewage plant will also be upgraded, hopefully by rainy season

ST. PETERSBURG — As the city addresses the recent sewage crisis, much of the attention has been focused on whether it should reopen the shuttered Albert Whitted wastewater treatment facility.

City staff, council members and activists have also spent hours vetting the massive expansion underway at the Southwest sewage plant.

But what about the Northwest plant?

That plant also had its own massive spill during last year's crisis, enraging residents and eroding trust in Mayor Rick Kriseman. He initially claimed residents didn't need to be notified that 58 million gallons of overflowing sewage was running through the streets beyond warning signs because it was basically reclaimed water.

A week later, the mayor admitted the error, that the water was dirtier than the city initially reported.

Now the city is spending $16 million on upgrades at the Northwest plant to prevent a similar spill in west St. Petersburg. After Hurricane Hermine dumped heavy rains on the city in September, sewage flowed into neighborhoods, across 22nd Avenue N and into nearby Walter Fuller Park.

In previous storms, the plant had no problems. But Hermine's rainfall caused a bottleneck to develop at the plant's filters preventing the water able to be treated. Eventually, the partially-treated sewage flowed into streets, yards and into stormwater drains, eventually depositing the water into Boca Ciega Bay.

The city plans to drill two new injection wells to dispose of treated sewage deep underground and add more filters to increase the plant's capacity to treat sewage from 40 million gallons a day to 55 million gallons a day.

If all goes as planned, the work should be done by summer.

"If the stars align, fingers crossed," said interim Water Resources Director John Palenchar. He said the expansion at the Northwest plant mirrors the efforts to increase capacity at the Southwest plant.

The Northwest plant needs plenty of work. During Hermine, one of the plant's clarifying tanks —which helps treat sewage by allowing solids to settle — was out of service, exacerbating the situation. That clarifier hadn't been working for as long as chief plant operator Sylvia Rosario had been at the plant.

"It was at least five years, " she said.

Since the spill, Palenchar said, that clarifier has been fixed.

A public information session will be held at the Walter Fuller Recreation Center at 6 p.m. Tuesday night to give residents a chance to learn about the upgrades and the opportunity to weigh in on the noise generated by the drilling rigs, which will be operating at the plant around the clock every day of the week for about a year.

Some residents will likely hear the construction noise, said chief plant operator Sylvia Rosario. When workers were cleaning a filter recently, residents complained about the noise, she said.

"They have to make a choice: do they want to put up with the noise for a year or risk another overflow?" Rosario said.

Residents will see plenty activity at the plant, 7500 26th Ave. N, over the next several years.

Kriseman has pledged to spend $304 million to fix the city's sewers by 2021 and nearly $59 million of that is budgeted for the Northwest plant.

The city has some trust building to do in the neighborhood after September's spill.

"That didn't go over very well," Jungle Terrace Civic Association president Ed Carlson said. "It was definitely a communication failure."

But, Carlson said the city has done much better of late.

"They communicated really well about what they're doing now," he said.

Carlson would like to see the city install a temporary pipe that would divert any overflow in a future storm into Jungle Lake north of the plant.

"Anything but running into the streets," Carlson said.

Palenchar said that the new injection wells and filters should give the city the ability to handle a storm like Hermine this summer. But if a rain event does overwhelm the plant, the new injection wells gives the city an option it didn't have last year:

"If the call had to be made whether to send this down the streets or down the wells, both of them being a violation of our permit, we're going to choose going down the wells."

Contact Charlie Frago at [email protected] or (727)893-8459. [email protected]

Comments
The Bucsí problem isnít how they finish; itís how they start

The Bucsí problem isnít how they finish; itís how they start

For the second straight week, the Buccaneers had the ball in the final minutes of a tie game.For the second straight week, they could not finish.As disappointing as that might be, they have a larger problem, and one that has existed all season: The B...
Updated: 3 minutes ago
Lightning opens road trip with shutout of Blues

Lightning opens road trip with shutout of Blues

ST. LOUIS ó This showdown was supposed to be about the best team in the East versus the best in the West. In reality, the Lightningís 3-0 win over the Blues on Tuesday night pretty much came down to this:Andrei Vasilevskiy is one of the best goalies ...
Updated: 14 minutes ago

Lottery resultsLottery numbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Tues., Dec. 12, midday:90 578 4984e_SRit30459Tues., Dec. 12, evening:85 659 2558e_SRit95745Fantasy 5Tue...
Updated: 1 hour ago

High school scoreboard for Dec. 12

Tuesdayís scoreboardGirls soccerCountryside 5, Tarpon Springs 0Palm Harbor U. 8, Alonso 0Boys soccerShorecrest 2, Indian Rocks Chr. 0Palm Harbor U. 3, Alonso 0Girls basketballNortheast 65, Dixie Hollins 25...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Defendant asks jurors: Do I look like Charles Manson?

Defendant asks jurors: Do I look like Charles Manson?

LARGO ó Daniel Richards, on trial in the murder of his 83-year-old mother, began his own criminal defense on Tuesday by asking a few questions to the pool of prospective jurors."If you were accused of killing your mother, would you want to represent ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Career Q&A: Two bosses who donít care for each other

Career Q&A: Two bosses who donít care for each other

Q: I seem to be caught between two high-level managers who really donít like each other. One is a director, the other is a vice president, and I am an assistant to both. Whenever the director stops by my desk to chat, she makes critical remarks about...
Updated: 2 hours ago
St. Pete losing two assistant police chiefs; one will join Rays

St. Pete losing two assistant police chiefs; one will join Rays

ST. PETERSBURG ó Two assistant police chiefs are stepping down next month, leaving two of the three second-in-command jobs vacant at the St. Petersburg Police Department.Assistant Chief Jim Previtera announced this week that he will resign from the d...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Winter meetings journal: Rays add more infield depth, claim it isnít prelude to a trade

LAKE BUENA VISTA ó The Rays on Tuesday adding their third infielder in the past two weeks would sure look like a precursor to trading front-liners such as 3B Evan Longoria or 2B Brad Miller.But GM Erik Neander insisted that was not the case and that ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tax package would lower top tax rate for wealthy Americans

Tax package would lower top tax rate for wealthy Americans

WASHINGTON ó Congressional Republicans on Tuesday rushed toward a deal on a massive tax package that would reduce the top tax rate for wealthy Americans to 37 percent and slash the corporate rate to a level slightly higher than what businesses and co...
Updated: 3 hours ago
GMs-turned-pundits believe now may be the time for Rays to sell

GMs-turned-pundits believe now may be the time for Rays to sell

LAKE BUENA VISTA ó The Rays have been doing a lot of talking, making another small deal Tuesday while still working toward bigger ones of a still-being-determined degree.And there have been a lot of baseball people at the winter meetings talking abou...
Updated: 3 hours ago