On the eve of a meeting between the Pinellas Legislative delegation and city officials, state Sen. Jack Latvala has presented one possible solution to prevent further overflows of wastewater into Tampa Bay.
And he wants St. Petersburg officials to tell him if it’s a good idea and, if not, why not.
“I would like your presentation to include if it is feasible for barges or tankers to be brought into Bayboro to be used for heavy rain events and, if it is not viable, why not,” the Clearwater Republican wrote Monday in a letter to St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.
Ben Kirby, spokesman for Kriseman, said the idea is one of many St. Petersburg officials have discussed. It will be one of the ideas that Claude Tankersley, the city’s public works chief, will present at Tuesday’s meeting.
The state of St. Petersburg’s sewer system has risen to the top of officials’ agendas after the city poured millions of gallons of untreated and partially treated wastewater into the bay during storms this summer. St. Petersburg officials say part of the problem is the city’s old sewer system that allows rain water to infiltrate and overburden the system, causing backups and overflows.
Earlier this month, Latvala and fellow Republican, state Rep. Kathleen Peters, called for a meeting of the Legislative Delegation to discuss what’s needed to prevent another overflow. The Pinellas County commission has also called for a task force to seek solutions to the problem.
The delegation is scheduled to meet Tuesday, which Latvala referred to, saying he was looking forward to hearing the city’s presentation.
“We are all deeply concerned by the discharge of hundreds of millions of wastewater that was not fully treated into our bay,” Latvala wrote. “I recognize that the city has projects underway and is planning that will alleviate these discharges in the future. But my question is, do we continue to sit by and allow these discharges happen during every major rain event until those projects are completed?”
Latvala said a constituent suggested bringing in relocatable storage units, such as barges, bladders, or tankers that the city could rent and place at Bayboro Harbor to hold “millions of gallons of outtake.”
“I would like for the city to consider renting bladders or barges and then pumping the flow to a processing plant when allowed after the rain event.”