PINELLAS PARK, Fla. - "We'd like you to try and help us out," said Bob Powell, Director of Environment and Infrastructure with Pinellas County.
A corroded, 42-inch pipe failed at the South Cross Bayou Water Reclamation facility a couple of weeks ago, allowing raw sewage to flow into nearby Joe's Creek.
Since then, crews have been working to install a series of smaller temporary pipes to help the sewage get treated at the facility.
"The challenge has been the fact that we've got an awful lot of water coming into the plant compared to what we normally have, due to these extremely heavy rains that we've been having," Powell said.
Now, the county is asking any resident in mid- to south-county that gets a water bill from Pinellas to go easy on the water use.
"If they can avoid taking longer showers, or doing that extra load of wash, maybe combine things," said Powell.
The reason is capacity. The plant normally averages about 22-million gallons a day. Recently, with the heavy rains, that number has peaked at times to nearly 60-million gallons. When you combine that with the temporary lines, it may be too much to handle.
"These particular pumps cannot move the same peak flows as our permanent pumping capacity," Powell explained.
If residents don't conserve, untreated sewage could spill into Joe's Creek.
County officials say it could be 6-8 weeks before the facility is back to normal operation.
They also stress this is not an advisory, just a friendly request for help.
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Last week, the I-Team was there when 99-year-old Willi Berchau was released from Florida's guardianship program after a three year court battle.