ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - St. Petersburg’s Mayor is talking about how the sewage problems are plaguing his city. This comes after he put two high level public works employees on unpaid administrative leave.
The mayor said he’ll do whatever it takes to speed up the work on the sewer system. He’s asking that people work 7 days a week instead of 5 and said that if they need to re-open the Albert Whitted facility that was closed in 2015, he’ll support it.
Yesterday, the mayor put water resources director Steve Leavitt and engineering director Tom Gibson on unpaid administrative leave. The mayor claims he and council never saw a 2014 report that showed closing the Albert Whitted sanitation facility would lead to sewage overflow in the city.
Thursday, the mayor said no one is more frustrated than he is. During Hurricane Hermine, millions of gallons of sewage overflowed and the city was forced to dump into the bay. The mayor said the city needs to do everything they can to stop that from happening again and the city needs accountability.
“It is obvious to me that there was a degree of disregard for the decision makers, for all of us, for all of those who preceded us, I suspect the 2014 report wasn’t the only thing not properly presented to us,” Mayor Rick Kriseman said.
Also during Hurricane Hermine, the northwest plant spilled about 58 million gallons of sewage, near a woman’s home she’s lived in for 50 years.
“That manhole right there was bubbling up never has ever before, we had water in the street which we have never ever had from any storm,” Mary Keogh said.
The mayor also said he city should capitalize on the public’s interest in fixing this. The city is asking for help from the EPA and DEP.
The public works administrator said he considers the city to be in a state of emergency until this problem is fixed
Council members have voted unanimously to receive updates on the sewer system every two weeks.