St. Petersburg, Florida claims to be the greenest city in Florida, despite illegally dumping 1-billion gallons of sewage into Tampa Bay, its aquifer, and the area’s surrounding surface waters. Under Mayor Rick Kriseman's tenure and St Petersburg Public Works actions, the city has perpetrated massive violations of the Clean Water Act. The city's illegal dumps have resulted in 89 felonies and 103 misdemeanors.
To date these crimes have gone unanswered.
Since 1977, the City of St Petersburg has only increased its sewage treatment capacity by 8% in the face of a steadily growing population that outpaces the city's treatment abilities. Instead, the city relies upon a network of 40-year old pipes and hamstrung treatment facilities to protect the city's surrounding waters from increasing and stronger wet weather events and hurricanes.
With more frequent and stronger storms on the rise, the administration's inability to prepare preemptively for inclement weather is problematic. Compounded by an antiquated waste water treatment infrastructure, this places the health of Florida's waters in peril.
Sadly, there is little hope in sight to adequately fix the city's aging infrastructure with safe and long-term solutions. St Petersburg's inadequate wastewater treatment fixes are repeatedly sidelined in favor of short-term solutions that rely upon deepwater injection wells that carry the potential to leak human waste into the area's drinking waters.
Days before announcing a master plan to revitalize downtown St Petersburg's waterfront, the Kriseman administration announced the closure of the Albert Whitted Waste Water Treatment Facility. Despite reams of expert reports and testimony that stated that the remaining three treatment facilities could not handle the increased waste flow, the city shuttered the plant. The city made the decision to close the facility to save itself $30-million dollars a year while knowing the closure would lead to spills.
Florida’s aquifers and its beloved waters have been willfully and knowingly contaminated with more than 1-billion gallons of sewage since the Whitted closure. For a potential savings of $30-million a year by closing Whitted, the Kriseman administration has cost the citizens of St Petersburg over $326-millon over the next five years with fixes that are questionable and barely enforceable under its consent order with the understaffed and underfunded Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
If the current administration is truly concerned with its citizen's health and wants to own the title of "Florida's First Green City," the city should name those responsible for the committed acts and enter into an enforceable consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency.
This is the story of Florida's worse sewage crisis in history.
This is St Pete Unfiltered.