Spill reports: sewage, reclaimed water are possible pollutants

By Melissa Eichman, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 02, 2016, 8:52 AM EDT

Spill reports are piling up from across the Bay area.

  • Spill report shows 60 possible pollutants
  • Ranges from oil to raw sewage
  • Infrastructure problems lead to more problems during Hermine

Approximately 60 pollution reports have been submitted locally since Gov. Rick Scott’s mandate one month ago.

The reports range from half-a-gallon of hydraulic oil dumped on a Bartow road, to 18,500 gallons of raw sewage leaked from Clearwater’s Marshall Street Water Reclamation Facility complex.

"The force main itself was quite old and it developed a leak," explained David Porter, Public Utilities Director with the City of Clearwater.

From solid waste to gasoline, the reports say some spills were often found in roadways, but some seeped into waterways as well. Causes for the spills ranged from faulty equipment, blockages, operator error to power outages.

USF St. Petersburg Professor of Environmental Sciences Professor, Dr. Jim Ivey and his students were recently in the bay testing water quality. Dr. Ivey says with any spill, pollution depends on many variables.

"It depends, too on the level of treatment of the sewage if it’s a raw, untreated sewage, then it’s a terrible thing, than if it’s sewage that has been partially treated like leakage from a waste water plant," said Dr. Ivey.

The City of Clearwater had problems with one of its pump stations during Hurricane Hermine, leading to a significant leak.

Clearwater has reported some spills in the last month -- some large, some small.

"We’ve had a couple of spills that have occurred because contractors hit our lines," said Porter.

The city says it's made progress since Hermine, but there's still work to be done.

"The largest accomplishment we've had in the last month is we've been able to get the temporary pumping system fully up and secured at the Marshall Street plant and it's very robust," said Porter.