ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — Over 10,000 gallons of wastewater spilled into Riviera Bay in St. Petersburg over the weekend, according to public works officials.
Officials sent out an alert on Sunday warning residents to stay out of the water until further notice as they test water quality levels.
On Aug. 18, around 800 gallons of wastewater spilled near the 8400 block of Tallahassee Dr. N.E. due to a water main break. An estimated 600 gallons flowed to Riviera Bay as a result of the spill, according to the public works department.
An additional 10,000 gallons of wastewater was released into the bay over the span of two hours as crews worked to repair the damaged water main on Saturday.
In a news conference Monday, John Palenchar, Director of Water Resources for the City of St. Petersburg, said concrete and debris from the San Martin Blvd. bridge construction blocked crews from quickly accessing the pipe. Public works crews from the nearby cities of Clearwater and Largo responded to help get the spill under control.
“Current containment efforts are underway and effectively capturing the sewage as it leaks from the pipe, including the construction of a pit lined with sandbags,” public works officials wrote in a release. “City crews are utilizing vacuum trucks (vactors) onsite to pull the sewage out of the pit, preventing any additional leakage into the bay.”
From there, the sewage is trucked away to the city’s wastewater treatment facilities. Residents should expect intermittent road closures at the San Martin Blvd. N.E. bridge while crews clean up the spill and repair the damaged water main.
Repairs were originally expected to be finished by Tuesday, but the city has chosen to replace the pipe entirely. The damaged pipe was built in the 1960s and was slated to be replaced in 2025. The $3 million project has been accelerated, according to Palenchar.
In the meantime, new pipes will be installed to bypass the break as the pipe awaits replacement.
Riviera Bay is located just south of the Gandy Bridge and west of the Duke Energy plant. It is bordered to the east by the Weedon Island Preserve and flows into Tampa Bay.