So far, St. Pete's sewage system is holding up just fine under steady rainfall
It’s been raining steadily since the beginning of June, but, so far, St. Petersburg’s beleaguered sewer system has handled the rain.
The rain keeps falling, but not one gallon has spilled or been pumped where it shouldn’t go as of midday Wednesday. The city’s injection wells haven’t flushed any partially treated sewage into the aquifer. And the shuttered Albert Whitted sewage plant hasn’t been used for emergency storage, said Public Works Administration spokesman Bill Logan.
“It’s worked,” Logan said. “That’s the bottom line.”
The last two summers have plunged the Sunshine City into national headlines and state and federal investigations after the city discharged about 200 million gallons into local bays and streets.
Mayor Rick Kriseman has pledged $304 million to fix the sewers and more than $50 million has been spent so far this year. The city is spending so much on its leaky sewer pipes that it’s considering creating a bonding authority to save its credit rating. It's poised to sign a state consent order requiring it to keep up the repairs or face massive fines.
In the midst of a reelection campaign where voters said the sewage crisis ranks high on their concerns, sewage spills could be deadly to the mayor’s reelection chances. The primary is Aug. 29, smack in the middle of the rainy season.
Sewage officials are monitoring how much sewage is flowing into the city’s three plants. For the last few days, the system operating about 50 percent of normal capacity, Logan said.
“I don’t know that’s anybody’s concerned. Nobody is alarmed. Everything is working as it’s supposed to,” Logan said. “But everybody is looking at everything very carefully.”