MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Manatee County Commissioners learned Tuesday the release of millions of gallons of water into Port Manatee is already having an environmental impact.
“Today we found high nitrogen concentrations in and around the port,” said Charlie Hunsaker, director of the Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department.
Commissioners also learned the high levels of nitrogen in the water have already created algae blooms.
“We are monitoring daily, using the NOAA satellites of where the plume is and it is pretty much staying near the port,” said Dr. Scott Hopes, Manatee County Administrator.
Dr. Hopes told commissioners rain fronts have broken up the algae bloom and it’s not believed great damage has been done to vital sea grass beds in the area.
Commissioners later voted to spend more than $9 million to hire a company for a deep well injection plan to treat and dispose of millions of gallons of water that remain at Piney Point.
Commissioner Misty Servia says she was initially concerned about the deep well injection plan before hearing the science involved.
“The evidence shows that they are scientifically sound ways of disposing of this type of waste,” said Servia.
Others are not as convinced.
Ada McPherson lives near Piney Point and is very concerned the deep well injection plan will contaminate the well water on her property.
“If they go in there and they mess up our water then what are we going to do,” said McPherson.
Joe McClash is a former Manatee County Commissioner who now serves as the chairman of the Suncoast Water Keepers.
McClash also believes deep well injection is not the best way to dispose of water from Piney Point.
“We just don’t know what happens when you introduce water to the subsurface of Florida. It’s like holes in Swiss cheese,” said McClash.