NewsPiney Point Leak


Drinking water for Manatee County residents will not be affected by the issues at Piney Point

Posted at 6:14 PM, Apr 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-06 23:36:57-04

PINEY POINT, Fla. — People who live around Piney Point in Manatee County are concerned their drinking water is in danger from the Piney Point water leak.

“What we’re most worried about is what the future impacts are going to be in terms of long term impacts to health if any of that water seeped in. All of this has really just created a further level of mistrust,” said Melissa Fitzsimmons.

Melissa Fitzsimmons lives right on the border of the Piney Point evacuation zone. Her family, like many in the area, rely on drinking wells for their water.

“I have a 19-month-old daughter. She was born here, she’s been bathing in this water. I shower in this water,” Fitzsimmons said.

Though, Manatee County officials are assuring residents that the drinking water is completely safe to drink, there’s concern from nearby residents about how millions of gallons of wastewater being released, will affect the drinking water.

ABC Action News asked Mary Lusk an Assistant Professor in the Soil and Water Sciences Department at the University of Florida.

“That water is going through many layers of treatment and monitoring and it shouldn’t even be affected by any of this wastewater spill whatsoever. The wastewater is not coming in contact with that water that’s part of the municipal supply,” Lusk said.

She said if a major breach were to happen then people who rely on well water should be concerned.

“Floodwaters from a major breach would slowly drain through the soil and could make their way through the aquifer,” said Lusk.

Though the wastewater is contaminated, it’s not toxic, meaning it won’t cause humans to die.

“It’s contaminated by excess phosphorus or excess nitrogen. And those elements may be at levels that we call contamination because maybe they’ll do some environmental harm," Lusk said.

However, Fitzsimmons said she has a private company coming out to her home to test her well water and plans to have it tested every three months.

“I don’t want to say I'm a not trusting person but when this happened and no one really told me this was near my house, I feel like now I need to take matters into my own hands and do what I need to do to keep my family safe,” said Fitzsimmons.