PALMETTO, Fla. — The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has stopped pumping contaminated water from Piney Point into Tampa Bay. They say teams are now treating the water that remains in the leaking gypsum stack before it’s released.
Tampa Bay Watch is monitoring the impact of more than 200-million gallons of contaminated water that was pumped into Tampa Bay to prevent the collapse of a gypsum stack at the old Piney Point phosphate mine in Palmetto.
"By pumping that amount of nutrients into a very small area this time of year, we’ll undoubtedly have impacts," said Peter Clark, Tampa Bay Watch president.
Clark says the amount of nutrients dumped into the bay in the last week is double the amount of what they expect to see in the bay in one entire year.
"Our biggest concern is that with all of these nutrients we will have significant algae blooms," said Clark.
Clark says algae blooms could kill the rich seagrass beds in Tampa Bay that are critical for marine life.
He says that’s what happened 20 years ago when water from Piney Point was released into Bishop’s Harbour.
"It’s very discouraging that 20 years ago this was a significant problem and now we’re dealing with it again. It’s critical that we learn this lesson once and for all," said Clark.
Clark says it could likely be weeks or months before we see the impact of the nutrients in the water. That’s why his team has been taking pictures and video to have them for comparison as they continue to monitor the water.