Gov. Rick Scott Wednesday ordered a state investigation into sewage spills. He directed Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Jon Steverson to explain why hundreds of millions of gallons of raw sewage flowed through Florida streets and into springs, rivers and the aquifer after hurricanes Hermine and Matthew hit the state.
Tallahassee, according to the Tallahassee Democrat, saw more than 1.6 million gallons when backup generators at a pump station failed to kick on when Hermine knocked out the city’s electric system. A Hermine-related spill in St. Petersburg dumped an estimated 150 million gallons of untreated wastewater into Tampa Bay. Last week in Jacksonville, a Matthew-related spill released more than five million gallons into the St. Johns’ watershed.
Power outages at pump and lift stations were reported in all three incidents.
In ordering the investigation, Scott referenced Florida’s “pristine environment, world class beaches, and award-winning state parks." He said he wants Steverson to come up with ideas on how spills can be prevented in the future.
“I encourage utilities across the state to work with DEP to address this important issue since we know storms will continue to impact our state,” said Scott. “We will continue to aggressively make sure everyone has clean water to drink and can enjoy our beautiful waterways and beaches.”
The Tallahassee spill was south of Capital Circle in an area where the city has spent more than $200 million to upgrade its wastewater treatment facility. City spokeswoman Alison Faris said the improvements also were designed to reduce the likelihood of spills.
“We will continue working in partnership with the Governor and DEP in our efforts to further enhance water quality for our community,” said Faris
A DEP spokeswoman said the agency is seeking additional information from the utilities involved in the respective spills. She said environmental specialists will assess procedures and explore possible solutions.
DEP declined to say when the investigations findings will be released.
10Investigates has been reporting on the St. Pete spill: