St. Pete targets manholes to prevent sewage spills

Posted at 5:52 PM, May 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-16 19:01:47-04

It’s a problem costing you millions of dollars and threatening our beautiful waterways. St. Pete has another new fix for it’s massive sewer issues.

The city is installing 2,000 rain dishes inside manholes in flood prone areas of St. Petersburg. The dishes will catch rain water and prevent it from getting into the city's sewer system. Crews are also spraying material into the manhole covers to cover cracks that allow rain water and ground water to seep into the sewer system. That was one large, contributing factor to the massive sewage spills we saw during Hurricane Hermine.

Glenn Bevil and Ina Springer live on opposite ends of St. Pete, but their priority is the same: Keeping sewage off their streets and out of Tampa Bay. 

“Some of us here in Old Southeast call it Poo Poo bay. Some days it smells sewege-y,” Springer explained.

Bevil has a lot of concerns. 

“I'm confused about what’s happening, what’s going to happen, what’s the time frame for repairs, do they have the money to fix the problems? Or is it a political ploy to say we are working on it? If so, that’s not satisfactory to me,” he said.

Springer agrees, “What are you doing to fix this, Mayor, we’d all like to know?”

We took their burning questions straight to Mayor Rick Kriseman. “We’re pushing everyone to get this done as quickly as possible so we can minimize the risk of it happening again. We have crews working fast to keep more rain out of our sewer system and prepare our sewer plants to take on more flow.”

The second set of projects involves digging deep wells at the city’s two main sewer plants, so they can hold more waste. 

The biggest question we heard from you: Should we worry about another sewage dump?

Mayor Kriseman explained, “I cannot ever guarantee what will happen going forward because we don’t control the volume of rain we get. What we can control is how we get our systems ready for the rainy season.”

The city is investing $304 million dollars of your money to do everything they can to prevent another spill. $51 million dollars has already been accounted for in projects that are currently underway.

Springer is hopeful the projects will make a difference.

“I’m hoping for the positives,” she said with a smile.

With the rainy season weeks away, these upgrades will be put to the test.