State lawmakers demand answers, solutions after sewage dumped in ocean

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Florida state law makers are demanding answers and solutions after Bay Area cities dumped raw and treated sewage into the ocean during recent storms.

It’s not the beach paradise Cindy Perry imagined when she moved to Boca Ciega Bay for her retirement.

“Every time there’s a storm, we’ve come to understand there will be fecal material in our back yard,” Perry said who lives feet from the water.  “I won’t have anything to do with water that unclean.”

The City of St. Petersburg has maintained no solid waste with fecal bacteria was dumped.

Republican state senator Jack Latvala, who represents part of Pinellas County, says he doesn’t buy that.  He says he’s listened to complaints like Perry’s. He’s worried about the potential impact on the environment and tourism. Latvala has called all city leaders affected to meet with state leaders representing Pinellas County tomorrow.

“I want reasons, answers then solutions,” Latvala said firmly. 

The City of St. Petersburg has set aside $60 Million next year for upgrades, but state lawmakers like Latvala want solutions now.

“We can’t have this kind of discharge to continue for another year or two; I just won’t allow that,” Latvala said.

Latvala cited study – saying he thinks St. Pete’s decision to close the Albert Whitted treatment plant was a mistake.  He’d like to see the city reopen the plant and use it as needed.

“That would be the most logical place to bring a ship or a barge and fill it up when we need the extra capacity,” Latvala said.

Mayor Rick Kriseman’s office says repairing their sewer infrastructure is priority number one.  They’re looking to addressing the issue at tomorrow’s delegation meeting.