There is a major push to try to solve the St. Petersburg sewage crisis by reopening the Albert Whitted sewage treatment plant. 10Investigates has been on top of this issue for more than a year.
Council member Steve Kornell says closing the Whitted plant was a mistake and he is pushing now for it to reopen by next June's rainy season. The city public works director says he can do it but it will cost $11 million.
“This is a crisis we need to deal with this with a sense of urgency,” said Kornell.
And the consensus is the sewage overflows and dumping into the bay is directly related to closing of the Albert Whitted sewage treatment plant.
But until whistle-blower Craven Askew came forward, elected officials weren't aware a consultant warned the water department two years ago this would happen.
“I'm losing trust ... time and time I've been lied to,” said Kornell.
Mayor Rick Kriseman says he never saw the consultant report either. But he isn’t convinced reopening the Whitted plant will solve all the problem.
“Even if that plant was fully online we still probably would have had a discharge into the bay,” Kriseman said.
Not as much?
“No, not as much and our goal moving forward is to prevent any discharges,” the mayor said.
Public Works Director Claude Tankersley says he now favors permanently reopening the Whitted plant.
To do that would take big bucks. The Public Works Department says it would cost more than $40 million to fix the Whitted facility to bring it back online fully.
Meanwhile, the council is pushing for an independent investigation to find out who was responsible for keeping the consultant report from elected officials.