Water department turmoil, possible criminal investigation

Major developments in the St. Petersburg Sewage crisis Thursday.

The millions of gallons of partially treated sewage dumped into Tampa Bay is moving toward a criminal investigation. That from U.S. congressman David Jolly who says a state law enforcement agency has told him that the allegations rise to the level of a formal investigation.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman is admitting to city councilors that the water department is in turmoil. This follows two top officials being suspended for not sharing information that could have prevented sewage overflows.

10Investigates has been reporting in problems in the department for months and it is nothing that will go away soon.

Kriseman admitted to the city council this is a crisis and he seems to be aware it attacks the fiber of his administration.

Public Works Director Claude Tankersley says the city faces a two-year emergency until it can expand the capacity for sewage treatment.

The problem with dumping millions of gallons of partially treated sewage in Tampa Bay was the result of the city making a huge miscalculation.

St. Petersburg closed the Albert Whitted sewage treatment plant in 2015 even though a consultant report said there would sewage overflows if capacity wasn't expanded elsewhere.

The mayor says he and council never saw that report which is why the two top officials were suspended Wednesday.

Kriseman says he will do whatever it takes to avoid dumping sewage in Tampa Bay. "Even if it means reopening the Albert Whitted plant."

The mayor also says he is going to have work increased from 5 to 7 days a week to expand capacity.

Tankersley says he believes Whitted should be put back on line, but both he and the mayor say it will be expensive.

Kriseman says more heads will roll and that he fears more consultant reports have been hidden from him and other elected officials.

Then after telling council his administration will be more transparent, he bolted from reporters and refused to answer questions about the potential criminal investigation.

10Investigates continues to cover the story:

Top water officials suspended after sewage overflows

248,000 gallons of sewage overflows

Pinellas legislators: We must address spill now

Hermine overwhelms sewage plants around Bay

Where's fix after minor Hermine?

 


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