Wastewater crews working to protect Tampa water during heavy rain period

TAMPA - When rain comes down this hard and this fast, the city's 223 pumps go into overdrive, taking in more than 100 million gallons of water per day-- that's nearly twice the usual amount. 

Crews monitor every movement from a command center at the Port of Tampa they call the "War Room".

Rob Decker, the stations Operations Specialist walked us through the system, he explained every one of the pumps can be monitored from the room.

"For example, here is the 18th street pump station, I click on that and it tells how many pumps are there what they should be pumping," Decker said.

He said with so much rain fall, the concern is over saturation, rainfall infiltration into the cities manholes  and cracks in the pipe lines. If just one pump goes off line and doesn't take in the water it needs to hat could mean a major mess of sewage on your streets and in your homes.

"You don't want anything to overflow where kids could be playing in it. So you want to make sure that nothing gets in the rivers and the wet wells, we need to make sure it stays in the pipes and it comes to us so we can treat it," said Decker.

If  pump should go down-or there's another type of issue the computers set off a signal so crews can be sent to the troubled area immediately.

The Director of the City's Wastewater Department Anthony Kasper said that during the rainy season, he shifts staffing by having the bulk of his crew work at peak storm times.

And when it rains like it did Tuesday, it's all hands on deck.

"We do actually increase staffing just for that purpose," Kasper said.

Kasper said his team is just as busy as the storm crews but the work for them doesn't end when the rain stops. 

"We are dealing with that increased flow rate and it stays increased for while even for awhile after the rain stops because all that water is soaking in the ground and getting into the pipes and we need to make sure the system says fully functional because if we get a lightening strike that takes the pumping station out you can end up with a back up and wastewater overflow," Kasper said.

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