LARGO, Fla. - Three environmentalist groups -- Suncoast Waterkeeper, Tampa Bay Waterkeeper, and Our Children's Earth Foundation -- settled a lawsuit with the city of Largo to prevent nitrogen from being pumped into Old Tampa Bay.
The groups settled similar lawsuits with Sarasota County, Gulfport, and St. Petersburg in the past five years.
"Largo knew before we even initiated this case that they had issues, they were not hiding their heads under the sand, they were making efforts to address them," said Justin Bloom, the founder of Suncoast Waterkeeper.
The city of Largo's engineering services says there is a $53-million project that has been underway since before litigation of this lawsuit began. The project is aimed at improving water treatment systems to help remove nitrogen and other pollutants that would end up going into Old Tampa Bay.
"The rainwater that’s getting into our sanitary sewer system, we’re going to extend that by three projects, so it was a natural enhancement to the work we are already doing," said Jerry Woloszynski, the director of engineering services for the city of Largo.
Environmentalists behind the lawsuit say that work wasn't good enough and there was no clear deadline as to when the projects would be finished.
"We found that it’s important to pursue these issues through the court to make sure to de-politicize the issue, sort of take it out of the political arena and make sure there are deadlines and enforceability to address these expensive and unpleasant infrastructure problems that cause so much water pollution," said Annie Beaman from Our Children's Earth Foundation.
The city of Largo says the public can also do its part in helping the treatment of wastewater by not pouring fats, greases, and oils down the drain, and not flushing wipes.