St. Petersburg suffers recent spate of minor wastewater spills

Most of the leaked reclaimed water made it to Tampa Bay.
Signs at North Shore Park in St. Petersburg went up in 2016 to warn people to stay out of the water due to contamination from leaked wastewater from the city’s overwhelmed sewer system. [Times (2016)]
Signs at North Shore Park in St. Petersburg went up in 2016 to warn people to stay out of the water due to contamination from leaked wastewater from the city’s overwhelmed sewer system. [Times (2016)]
Published May 24

ST. PETERSBURG — More than 13,000 gallons of wastewater has leaked from St. Petersburg pipes over three incidents in May, according to state environmental records.

The majority of it ended up in Tampa Bay waters.

Two of the reclaimed water leakages were the result of contractor work. City officials have said small spills are bound to happen as the city spends $326 million to upgrade upgrade its wastewater system, as required by a 2017 consent order from the state.

The recent spate of spills started May 13 when, city officials wrote to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, a homeowner or contractor punctured a 1-inch reclaimed water line on Lido Way in Snell Isle, spilling about 5,868 gallons of water. All but 600 gallons of that reached Smack's Bayou, an inlet of Tampa Bay between Snell Isle and Shore Acres.

Then, on Monday, a contractor who was excavating a concrete driveway struck another reclaimed water line on Beach Drive SE on Coquina Key. About 2,079 gallons leaked from the pierced pipe. All but about 200 gallons flowed to Big Bayou, another Tampa Bay inlet, records show.

The final incident happened Thursday, also on Coquina Key. A reclaimed water line failed on 38th Avenue SE, city workers wrote to the state. It discharged 5,544 gallons. About 5,000 gallons reached Big Bayou.

Cities are required by law to post public notices of spills to a state Department of Environmental Protection website within 24 hours of the incident being discovered. Notification of Monday's Coquina Key spill didn't occur until Thursday.

While reclaimed water is safe to use on lawns, state law prohibits releasing it into surface waters because its been treated with chemicals harmful to marine life: ammonia, chlorine, phosphorus and nitrate.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE:

Hurricane Hermine leaves Tampa Bay area befouled (Sept. 2, 2016)

Whistleblower says Northwest sewage spill was dirtier than St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman says it was (Sept. 20, 2016)

Sunshine City? More like the Leaky City: St. Petersburg's sewage problem tied to pipe leaks (Oct. 20, 2016)

No criminal charges in St. Pete’s 1 billion gallon sewage crisis (Oct. 27, 2017)

Utility bills will rise for St. Pete residents -- and keep rising (Nov. 9, 2017)

St. Pete says discharge never reached the bay. Its own report says otherwise. (April 20, 2018)

St. Petersburg has spilled 2 million gallons of wastewater in the last three months (Dec. 7, 2018)

Contact Josh Solomon at [email protected] or (813) 909-4613. Follow @ByJoshSolomon.

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