St. Pete may study sewage handling after Clam Bayou dump

St. Petersburg city council members are calling for an independent review of wastewater practices after the city dumped 15 million gallons of raw sewage in Clam Bayou several weeks ago.


The city originally said it was forced to dump the sewage, which mainly impacted the community of Gulfport, because flood water overwhelmed the wastewater system in early August.


City councilman Steve Kornell is raising new questions about the decision to discharge the sewage and is calling for a review of the wastewater system. He cited a previous study that offered the option to split a wastewater overflow amongst the city's working treatment facilities.


"This is not a seamless city. This is a major problem," said Kornell.


Kornell suggested the Water Resources Department may have dumped the sewage because it was the cheapest option. Yet storm water official Steve Leavitt said there was nowhere else to put the wastewater, calling the weather event dumping inches of rain extreme. Leavitt offered an apology and said the city would work to minimize impacts of overflow sewage in the future, but said, "We can't sign an agreement with Mother Nature."


Council decided to table the discussion of the independent study, sending it to committee before taking a vote on the issue at a Sept. 3 meeting. The city also decided to delay a vote that would move continue work on an existing storm water project.


Gulfport residents attended the meeting, saying they got no warning about the sewage discharge and wanted a legal promise it wouldn't happen again.


"It's not OK with me to think of my city as a sewage dumping ground," said one resident.