Pinellas County legislators dissect sewage overflow problems during Hurricane Hermine

Posted at 6:07 PM, Sep 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-21 18:07:56-04

Rep. David Jolly could be asking the EPA to investigate about 150 gallons of sewage dumped into the bay during Hurricane Hermine. Pinellas county legislators are trying to figure out what caused massive flooding.

The county is stepping up to help with the sewer problem that's always been on St. Pete's shoulders. Not only is a city responsible for their own sewage, but they also take care of places like Gulfport, St. Pete Beach and Treasure Island.

"This is a community-wide problem it's the whole bay it's not one cities problem,"  Senator Jack Latvala said. 

For hours, Pinellas county leaders explained what happened during Hurricane Hermine that forced the them to dump more than 248 million of gallons wastewater.

"That's a very big number and nobody wants that to happen," Mary Yeargan with the Department of Environmental Protection said. 

Parts of Pinellas County got 20 inches of rain during Hermine, more than double an average month's rainfall. The city of St. Pete didn't have the overflow capacity.

The mayor of St. Pete now says he never saw a 2014 report that said if the Albert Whitted sanitation facility closed, the city could have overflows.

"I never saw that report, city council never saw that report, we're asking the same questions we want to know why we never saw that report," Mayor Rick Kriseman said.

The city of St. Pete said they've been working on the southwest plant since July and they're hoping to finish improvements within two to three years that would prevent future issues.

But people who live here, and make their living on the water, are frustrated.

"That doesn't settle me as a businessman that it's hanging on by a very fine thread to keep my business open what can be done for us for the next two years to protect us," Kurt Zuelsdorf with Kayak Nature Adventures said.

One idea is a barge off shore.

Legislators will meet within 60 days from to talk about solutions.