Piney Point water being treated as ponds fill up

Stormwater being stored at the Piney Point phosphate plant stopped being discharged Friday after not meeting the Department of Environmental Protection’s water quality criteria.

"It currently doesn’t meet all of those discharge water quality parameters specifically for conductivity, which means it’s kind of saltier than it ought to be, so that means it’s something that they cannot discharge and stay within their permit requirements," said Maya Burke, the assistant director of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program.

The Tampa Bay Estuary Program is working with the DEP and other environmental groups overseeing Piney Point. Over the last few weeks, stormwater has been discharged from the plant because the ponds are filling up with water.

There’s concern they will continue to get full because we’re only halfway through the rainy season.  The DEP says companies are using innovative technology to reduce the amount of total phosphorus and total nitrogen from the water, so when and if more needs to be released, it won’t be harmful to the bay.

"The goal right now is to make sure that the potential future discharges are not of an emergency nature like they were back in April, and so we’re able to provide additional treatment to that water before it is discharged into the environment," said Burke.