United States: Florida sewage threatens to flow into Tampa Bay

More than 300 houses were evacuated in the south of the city, threatened by the discharge of this wastewater from a former phosphate factory.

“What we are now trying to prevent (…) is catastrophic flooding.” In a press conference on Sunday April 4, the governor of the US state of Florida, Ron DeSantis, warned of the situation in which Tampa Bay finds itself: the site of a sewage tank could rupture , threatening a huge flood and possible environmental disaster.

More than 300 homes have been ordered to evacuate in this area , south of the large city of Tampa. A state of emergency has been declared in order to allocate new funds to face this potential crisis at the industrial site of Piney Point, a former phosphate factory used for the production of fertilizers.

The plastic coating of this reservoir, containing more than a million cubic meters of wastewater, from dredging or rainwater in particular, began to leak several days ago. “If we were to see a complete rupture, in a few minutes, about 340 million gallons (over a million cubic meters of water, editor’s note) could spill out,” said Scott Hopes, an official for Manatee County where is Tampa Bay. According to him, the models show that such a rupture would result in a “water wall” 6 meters high. 

Authorities have tried unsuccessfully to plug the leak, and have now been pumping water out of the reservoir since last week to reduce the pressure there, at the rate of more than 100,000 cubic meters per day.         

Threat of a “red tide”

This water “is not radioactive”, reassured the governor, who asked the company managing the site, HHK Holdings, to account. He assured that the water had been tested before being discharged and was mainly composed of “saline water” . It “meets the quality standards for marine water, with the exception of phosphorus and  nitrogen “, and nutrients, he said.

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