Advertisement
  1. Pasco

New Port Richey plant spills 150,000 gallons of wastewater into Cross Bayou

Published May 8

NEW PORT RICHEY — West Pasco's sensitive maze of marine ecosystem off the Gulf of Mexico took a hit May 4 after 300,000 gallons of wastewater spilled from a ruptured pipe in New Port Richey's sewage treatment plant.

The city discovered the breach at 7 a.m. and stopped the leak at 10:15 a.m., according a report to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Half of the spill remained on land, but approximately 150,000 gallons seeped into Cross Bayou, part of the lower coastal watershed that flows to the Gulf of Mexico.

A 20-inch pipe ruptured on an aeration tank at the facility, said city public works director Robert Rivera. The tank sits on 15 acres at 4730 Main Street., off Sea Forest Drive and west of U.S. 19.

On Tuesday evening, city officials expressed remorse over the spill, but said it could have been worse. The tank holds up to 1.6 million gallons of wastewater for treatment, and crews feared that contaminated water would flood surface water near the plant.

"Our crews responded unbelievably," Rivera told City Council members. "For our staff to perform the way they did and follow protocol, I can't say enough."

The cause of the rupture is unknown, he said. It occurred in a 30-year-old pipe that has a life expectancy of more than 100 years. Rivera told the council that the break was not the result of poor maintenance or a lack of oversight by the city.

"This really concerns me. I am not happy about it. It's a very unfortunate thing that happened," Rivera said. "But they do happen in our business. I believe that from the top down, we supplied everything we could when it came to maintaining that plant."

The city's report to the state said the "area has been cleaned up and disinfected.''

The Florida Department of Health in Pasco County said it planned water quality tests at nearby Robert K. Reese Memorial Park, Green Key Beach, on Wednesday, five days ahead of its normal schedule. The city also is taking samples and will examine its infrastructure, Rivera said.

Rivera said he hopes the incident will shed a light on the gigantic enterprise that is New Port Richey's wastewater plant, a facility he called a "beast." It processed more than 2 billion gallons of wastewater last year, costs $3 million a year to run, and provides New Port Richey a million gallons per day of treated water for use, according to the city's website. The facility also pumps about 4.5 million gallons of treated water to Pasco County Utilities for use throughout the county, according to the website.

Deputy Mayor Jeff Starkey said the city needs to take steps to avoid another spill. He also praised the staff for avoiding the worst-case scenarios.

"To see something like this happen is really unfortunate. I commend you and your staff for doing such a great job in stopping as much as you could," Starkey told Rivera.

Staff writer C.T. Bowen contributed to this report.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Stay with tampabay.com for the latest news and updates. Times
    Seth Monroe Majors, 31, died at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point.
  2. Building sand mandalas will be offered each day throughout Peace Week at Pasco-Hernando State College's Porter Campus. JONES, OCTAVIO  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Peace Week 2019 will be Sept. 30-Oct. 4
  3. Jessica Stoneking, Seven Springs Elementary School art teacher, and a group of kindergarten children enjoy a colorful floor rug during instruction time.  The rug is one of the many flexible seating options art students have in Stoneking's class. Gail Diederich
  4. Imam Askia Muhammad Aquil says religious leaders must be empathetic to the needs of families members of those who die by suicide. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Attitudes have evolved with understanding about mental illness
  5. Joshua Michael Nichols, 21, was arrested by Pasco County Sheriff's deputies on Saturday in connection to the early morning shooting death of an unidentified man during an argument outside a Spring Hill home. [Pasco County Sheriff's Office] ANASTASIA DAWSON  |  Pasco County Sheriff's Office
    One person is in custody. The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office is investigating.
  6. Yesterday• Pasco
    Dr. Rao Musunuru, MD, received his third “Paul Harris Award.” the highest recognition from the Rotary Club, on Aug. 15. The pin was presented to Dr. Musunuru, a nationally-recognized cardiologist, by Rotary 6950 District Governor Allen Collins in recognition of his humanitarian and philanthropic services to the people of Pasco County and the State of Florida for nearly 40 years. Pictured: Dr. Rao Musunuru, MD, (left) and Rotary 6950 District Governor Allen Collins. Jemith Rosa/Hudson Rotary Club
    News and notes about your neighbors
  7. The Pasco County school district would rezone the Seven Oaks subdivision from the Wiregrass Ranch High feeder pattern to the Cypress Creek High feeder pattern, beginning in the 2020-21 school year. Pasco County school district
    The Seven Oaks subdivision is the primary target for rezoning.
  8. Homeowner Cheryl Murdoch, 59, explains the workings of the Philips Smart Mirror in her bathroom. Murdoch and her husband live in the Epperson neighborhood in Wesley Chapel, home of the Crystal Lagoon, where some residents are piloting new health technologies inside their homes. SCOTT KEELER  |   Times
    In Pasco’s Crystal Lagoon community, AdventHealth and Metro Development Group are testing in-home technology aimed at keeping people away from the hospital.
  9. Lilly Beth Rodriguez, left, Laura Robertson and Linda Lamont work on a Habitat for Humanity house in north Pasco. [Times (2013)]
    The increase is expected to happen in the first half of next year. CEO hopes other nonprofits follow suit.
  10. The number of single-family homes sold in the Tampa Bay area during August rose 2.8 percent when compared with the same month last year, according to a monthly report from Florida Realtors. (Times file photo)
    The midpoint price in the bay area rose to $250,000, which is still lower than the state and national median prices.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement