Pinellas Co. gets $1.3 million for red tide cleanup

Pinellas County is getting some relief from the cost of red tide cleanup. On Thursday, county commissioners approved a $1.3 million grant to reimburse the county for spending money to clear out dead fish at sea and on the shore.

More dead fish were spotted around the county, including areas farther north in the Old Tampa Bay near the Courtney Campbell Causeway.

“We’re citizens of Florida. We love to come to the beach. It’s a privilege to come out here, and the beach is one of our privileges. So yeah, the red tide causes a lot of concern for all of the people in the community because this is where we come to socialize and hang out,” said Pinellas County resident Jehann Brown. 

Pinellas County is currently working with a contractor to clean up and intercept the fish kill before it washes ashore.

“We’ve removed about 86 tons of debris since last Friday, so without this funding, the cost would be borne by the taxpayers here locally,” said Kelli Levy, the Pinellas County environmental management director.

Levy told the Board of Commissioners the state will reimburse the county up to $1.3 million for paying contractors to pick up the fish. She said they already spent over $300,000 since last Friday.

“I think it’s amazing that the government is doing that because your tax dollars can be well spent in other [projects], doing the causeway which has been under construction for a long time. So, yeah, I like that,” said Pinellas County resident Cathy Brusius.

The conditions change every day, so the county said it will keep grabbing samples.

“The aerial data is just imperative to how we make decisions, so it’s very appreciated,” said Levy about getting help from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Levy said the county will keep an eye on the levels on the gulf and in the bay. Representatives with Visit St. Petersburg-Clearwater said locals and visitors can visit for the latest red tide conditions at county beaches.