St. Pete Beach told to stop using sewer

Posted at 12:00 PM, Jun 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-07 18:25:10-04
Residents living in St. Pete Beach are being asked to immediately stop using the sanitation system.
The city says its sanitary sewer pipe and pump station system is completely full and cannot accept any additional flow. Sanitary overflow was coming up through manholes throughout the city. 
All residents and businesses on St. Pete Beach are requested to stop using the sanitary sewer system until further notice. 
This includes:
  • showers
  • baths
  • laundry
  • dish washing
  • any other use of water that enters the sanitary sewer system
The city said flushing toilets is necessary, but urges residents to be cautious and limit use as much as possible.  
City officials expect the ban to be in effect most of the day or until flood waters recede.
"As you try to push more and more water into a pipe that's already full, that water's going to come out some place," said Michael Clarke, director of public works.
Clarke said the city decided to begin releasing some of the overflow into Boca Ciega Bay because that option was less of a health risk than allowing the overflow to rise through manhole covers on city streets and private property. Sewage started bubbling up from manholes earlier this morning. Some city trucks were placed on top of manhole covers to keep them from rising up and washing away.
"It is a worse situation to have raw sewage on the street in regards to health and safety and sanitation than it is to release it in the bay." Mayor Maria Lowe said.
When asked how much sewage was being discharged Clarke said ""It's really an uncertain number. Our city engineer is working on the calculations so we haven't quite figured that out yet."
Septic trucks have been pumping up water and sewage since early this morning. The trucks have been delivering that water-sewage mix to the main lift station on Boca Ciega Drive where the discharges have been occurring.
Mayor Lowe says she believes the discharges will end this evening.
The City of St. Petersburg also began discharging partially treated wastewater into Tampa Bay from the Albert Whitted Waste Water Facility. 
The city is permitted to bypass around wastewater plants when unusual emergency circumstances are experienced. 
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has been notified of a discharge. 
The discharge outfall is located approximately one quarter of a mile into Tampa Bay, east of Albert Whitted Airport.