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St. Pete will never know extent of sewage dump into Tampa Bay

The city's public works administrator told City Council on Thursday that the city will never know the exact amount of partially-treated sewage that has been dumped into Tampa Bay for the past eight days.

Claude Tankersley said a stuck flow meter on discharge pipes made it impossible to determine how many millions of gallons have befouled the bay since Aug. 31.

And the city will never know, he confirmed to the Tampa Bay Times.

Earlier this week, the city notified the state's Department of Environmental Protection that it more than 20 million gallons of wastewater had been dumped and the amount was increasing.

On Thursday, Tankersley said that the sewage pumping from the Albert Whitted sewer plantn was ongoing. He couldn't say when it would stop. The city's 56-million-gallon system was still near capacity, he said.

Council members vented their frustration at the third dump into the bay since August 2015. At least 60 million gallons have been spilled or dumped since last year.

Council chairwoman Amy Foster said the frequent dumping felt like Groundhog Day to her.

"It's unacceptable to dump into the bay," she said. "It's absolutely unacceptable to dump eight straight days."

Mayor Rick Kriseman said the city has budgeted $219 million in the next five years to fix leaky pipes and increase capacity. Officials said the system should be much improved within two years.

He also said that previous mayors had neglected the system and that dumps are nothing new. He cited a 1999 dump of 69 million gallons.