Reclaimed water spilled into canal at Boca Ciega Bay

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Published May 2, 2018|Updated May 2, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG — Nearly 3,000 gallons of reclaimed water spilled into a canal that leads to Boca Ciega Bay Tuesday morning after a pipe was punctured at the Southwest Water Reclamation Facility near Eckerd College.

An estimated 27,375 gallons of reclaimed water flowed out of a 2-inch hole punched in a pipe by a construction crew around 8:40 a.m., according to a report from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Officials said it was repaired within 25 minutes.

While 90-percent of the spill soaked into the ground on site, according to the report, about 2,373 gallons went into the storm system. The reclaimed water flowed into a storm drain that leads to a canal which flows between Tampa Bay and Boca Ciega Bay.

“We are testing to see if there’s any impact,” public works spokesman Bill Logan said. “This is reclaimed water, it isn’t sewage. There is no anticipation of anything happening to negatively impact the waterway.”

Tests were conducted Tuesday and again Wednesday to see if the water was contaminated. The results should be posted Thursday on the city's website for recreational water quality.

Earlier this year, 266,000 gallons of reclaimed water spilled from the Northeast Water Reclamation Facility. City officials said not one gallon reached Tampa Bay. But officials received a report that said there is a "high probability" spilled waste flowed into Tampa Bay.

Water Resources Director John Palenchar said that report "the first crack at capturing the after-action reporting process or methodology." He called it a draft that was not going to be finalized or completely vetted.

Spills and subsequent reports have faced scrutiny after the 2015-16 sewage crisis, in which Mayor Rick Kriseman and his administration were criticized for not being forthcoming as the ailing sewage system released up to a billion gallons of waste — 200 million gallons of which ended up in the bay.