With memories of the effect Tropical Storm Colin had on St. Petersburg’s sewer system in June fresh in peoples’ minds, Mayor Rick Kriseman sought Tuesday to reassure residents the city is ready for Tropical Depression 9.
“The city is prepared for this event,” Kriseman said.
The sewer lines have been cleared, he said, and the capacity of the system has been increased.
But residents also need to help out. Kriseman asked that residents refrain from using large quantities of water during the expected rains. Do chores like laundry either before or a couple of days after the storm has passed.
Kriseman made his comments during a press conference on the steps of City Hall. He was flanked by police Chief Anthony Holloway, fire rescue Chief James Large, fire division chief of emergency management Dean Adamides, and public works administrator Claude Tankersley.
“We have prepared our system as best we can for this event,” Tankersley said.
Among the improvements made since June is an increase in the storage capacity of the Albert Whitted sewage plant. Officials had expected the expansion to take four months, but managed to complete the work in two months, Tankersley said. That gives the city a three-million-gallon storage facility that was lacking in June.
When Tropical Storm Colin hit the bay area in June, rainwater made its way into leaky sewer pipes and overloaded the system. The city had to pump partially treated sewage into Tampa Bay to cope with the overflow.
Since then, the city has worked not only to clean out the pipes but also to increase the system’s capacity. And the city council has earmarked millions for both short- and long-term upgrades and repairs to the aging system.
But the weather isn’t giving the city a break. It’s been a rainy summer since June, and Tropical Depression 9 is forecast to dump between four and eight inches of water on the Tampa Bay area in the 48-hour period beginning Wednesday.