ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Workers in St. Petersburg are in a mad dash to get the city’s sewer treatment plants ready for this weekend's deluge of rain water.
Crews at the Southwest Wastewater Plant started working Tuesday to prepare for the wet weather by emptying sewage storage tanks, digging a deep stormwater swale and hauling in pumps to suck up any stormwater on the sewage treatment center's property.
St. Petersburg resident Bert Dooley gets nervous every time rain is in the forecast. His home is just blocks from the Southwest Water Reclamation facility, where crews are working to stop sewage leaks with a $326 million project.
"I think everyone in Pinellas County is concerned with that because it has been such an issue,” Dooley elaborated.
Dooley and his neighbor Harold Wells say they cannot help but feel rattled by rain ever since FWC blasted the city for dumping one billion gallons of waste during heavy rainfall into neighborhoods and Tampa Bay.
“It’s disturbing and I hope that’s something that never ever happens again,” Wells said.
St. Petersburg Public Works leaders say they are confident it will not happen again even with significant rain in the forecast this weekend.
Ken Wise, plant manager at the Southwest facility, says they have nearly doubled capacity which should alleviate many of the issues.
“I’m fairly confident right now going into another rainy season. We have almost doubled the capacity we can pump in here," Wise explained.
Crews at the city’s sewage plants switched to a wet weather protocol. That means they are getting the infrastructure ready to take on additional rainwater washing into the sewer system.
“You hope they get it done in time, but we’re here now and the rain has begun. It’s do or die,” Dooley added.
Across town, teams are cleaning out storm drains to make sure nothing washes its way into the sewer plants this weekend.
The goal is to get all the wet weather work done by noon on Friday in time for whatever moisture mother nature tosses our way.