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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

St. Pete has small sewage spill on eve of mayoral election

A small sewage spill occurred Monday night at the Southwest plant. A city spokesman originally said Tuesday that city hadn't received any reports of spills on social media. He later said he wasn't aware of spill until contacted by the Tampa Bay Times.

Eve Edelheit

A small sewage spill occurred Monday night at the Southwest plant. A city spokesman originally said Tuesday that city hadn't received any reports of spills on social media. He later said he wasn't aware of spill until contacted by the Tampa Bay Times.

29

August

ST. PETERSBURG — The city experienced a minor sewage spill the night before Tuesday’s hotly-contested mayoral primary.

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However, it took a while for city officials to release that information.

The Tampa Bay Times sent a tweet Tuesday morning to @StPetePW, the official Twitter handle for the Public Works department run by spokesman Bill Logan, asking if the city had spilled any sewage after Monday’s rains.

“None reported,” Logan tweeted about 8:15 a.m.

An hour later, the Times was told that there had been a spill at the Southwest plant on Monday evening, during heavy rains. A Times reporter called Logan and asked if that report was accurate.

About twenty minutes later, Logan confirmed that 1,000 gallons was spilled when plant operators started to implement a “bypass” to divert heavy flows into plant’s headworks (the place where sewage initially flows into the plant).

The minor spill occurred between 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. and was confined to the plant, Logan said.

There was no risk to public safety, he said via text message.

Shortly after 10 a.m., the city reported the spill to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

So why did the city report early Tuesday that there were no spills?

Logan said that, when he answered the Times’ inquiry at 8:15 a.m., he didn’t know there were any spills.

“I answered your (first) query accurately,” Logan said in a series of texts. “I had received no reports of any issues … I’m not omniscient. While a report has since come to light, it does not make the earlier response inaccurate.”

St. Petersburg wasn’t the only Tampa Bay city to experience discharges. On Monday night, Tampa reported that it discharged 290,000 gallons into the Hillsborough River through an emergency overflow pipe because of heavy rains.

One of the big issues in St. Petersburg’s mayoral primary between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker is how the Kriseman administration has handled the situation arising from the release of tens of millions of gallons of sewage from 2015-16.

[Last modified: Tuesday, August 29, 2017 4:03pm]

    

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