NewsPinellas County


At least 1,300 gallons of sewage leaks into Smacks Bayou in St. Pete

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Posted at 8:57 PM, Jul 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-21 06:03:22-04

SAINT PETERSBURG, Fla. — Aubrey Moorefield has lived on Smacks Bayou in St. Pete for most of his life. "There were so many fish, manatees, dolphins," said Moorefield.

He says it used to be a beautiful little estuary until Red Tide came in a few weeks ago and killed nearly everything. He says to add insult to injury, there was recently sewage leaking into the water near his home.

"It's just messed up," said Moorefield. On Monday, the city of Saint Petersburg posted a notice that 1,300 gallons of sewage water had leaked into Smacks Bayou on July 18 and 19 because of a mechanical failure.

They say they put in a by-pass pump to stop the leak.

But St. Pete resident Jake Hessler who grew up on the water near the leak says it’s been going on a lot longer than just a couple of days.

"I called it in a week before that and it had been going at least a week before I realized what it was," said Hessler. Hessler took a picture of what he believed to be sewage water leaking out from under the bridge on July 13. He says he called the city three different times about it but no one came to fix it until two days ago. We contacted the city to ask about the leak. Ben Kirby with St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman's office gave us this statement:

"We take any spill seriously, with the understanding of the impact it has on our environment. That's why we notify our citizens. You can find these notifications on our website. With respect to how it will take time to determine the cause of the force main break. All the information we know to date is in our report."

This is also not the only wastewater leak that has happened recently around the Tampa Bay area. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection Pollution Notice shows several leaks and spillages that have happened around the bay area just this month, many due to heavy rain.

Some of them include:

  • July 4 - Hillsborough County - 2,290 gallons of wastewater overflow
  • July 4 - City of Tampa - 57,820 gallons of wastewater overflow from heavy rain
  • July 12 - Hillsborough County released an unspecified amount of "treated wastewater"
  • July 14 - Pinellas County - 500 gallons of wastewater overflow

For more details and a complete list of FDEP pollution notices click here.

But Moorefield says he thinks more needs to be done to protect our water before it's too late.

"Soon enough we’ll be talking to our kids about the good old days when the Bay was awesome, and now it's just kind of a dumping area for raw sewage and contaminated water," said Moorefield.