Sewage dumping could be harming Black Skimmers

45 dead black skimmers found so far on beaches
Posted at 11:21 PM, Sep 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-13 23:21:55-04

Tuesday night, protestors angered over the dumping of sewage into Tampa Bay that spilled into a St Pete Pier opened a house meeting.

Children and adults silently held their signs high while discussions over the piers future continued around them.

The actions, music to the ears of Lorraine Margeson.

"I've never seen this happen before and the only thing that's different this year is the massive sewage dumping," said Margeson.

Margeson, a 15 year volunteer with the Florida Shorebird Alliance says 45 juvenile Black Skimmers have been found dead along the beach over the past 6 days.

"Every single one of them have died or showed the presentation of dying in a convulsive state," said Margeson.

She snapped a photo of one of the birds in late August.

Another photo appears to show an adult bird agonizing over its chicks death.

Margeson says one skimmer has already tested positive for salmonella which she says could be related to the dumping of sewage.

"We can't keep developing and not address the back end, which is really the back end, of sewer needs," said Margeson.

On Monday, St Pete officials estimated about 70 million gallons of sewage have hit the bay so far.

Wildlife officials are examining several of the dead birds but have not provided any conclusions yet.

Margeson says not only does she expect more dead birds but even more marine life feeling the effects of poor infrastructure and planning.

"If they threw gazillions of dollars at it right now, its not going to be fixed next year, so we can expect this again," said Margeson. "But they better get on it because we don't have that many years left to get on it and do something about it,"

Councilwoman Darden Rice, who was in attendance during the protests issued this statement:

"They are my constituents and they have every right to be there. Their anger and concern is justifiable. I am just as upset  as they are. So are my council colleagues. So is the mayor. The city is taking the situation with seriousness and urgency. The reality is that it takes time to catch up with decades of deferred maintenance and to build higher storage treatment capacity. The storms of today are only unusual if you look backward. Looking forward, we know to expect a climate that brings more frequent storms with heavier rains and higher sea levels. That means we have to budget and build for a city for tomorrow, not rebuild the city of yesterday."