Kriseman: Water dumped in Bay was nearly bacteria free

Evan Lambert reports

- Mayor Rick Kriseman says the wastewater dumped in the bay was 99.993-percent bacteria free, according to the city's tests of the water.

While St. Petersburg was the biggest offender in the number of gallons of partially-treated sewage dumped into the Bay, many other municipalities made dumps of their own, some of untreated, raw sewage.

Clearwater spilled 31.7 million gallons of water that city officials say was 75-80 percent rainwater.

Largo dumped 18.3 million gallons of partially-treated sewage.

Tampa discharged 1.7 million gallons of raw sewage.

Back in Pinellas County, the legislative delegation there plans on meeting later in the month to address the county's sewer and stormwater system problems.

Kriseman says recent tests show the majority of the city's beaches and the areas where the waste water was dumped are healthy for swimming. He even said he would swim in the water himself.

"We've tested the waters in our beaches they all tested within that range that's acceptable for swimming and based on that I trust our scientists. I would go swimming in there," said Kriseman.

To prevent another massive discharge like the one that accompanied Hurricane Hermine, Kriseman vowed to put into place an infrastructure plan that would address broken and antiquated pipes and insufficient storage for waste water.

He said the city has already allotted $60 million to begin work on the sewer system over the next two years.

David Hastings, a marine biology professor at Eckerd College, says it is likely safe to swim and fish in the areas of the bay impacted by the waste water.

"The solution to pollution is dilution so the ocean is big the Gulf of Mexico is big and it makes sense that after a week or so of flushing and dilution that these pathogens would be diluted enough to not cause a problem," said Hastings.The city's dumping of up to approximately 151 million gallons of mostly-treated waste water has caused controversy with city residents who accused the mayor and city officials of not giving them sufficient warning or notice about the discharges. They also had numerous environmental and health concerns.

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