Neighbors in Tampa’s Harbour Island are upset and want answers about the city’s plans to replace a sewage pipeline running through the middle of their community
“The more I find out about it, the more I’m scared that they don’t know what they’re doing,” said Larry Premak, president of the South Neighborhood Association.
With Downtown Tampa facing a major facelift thanks to Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, the reliability of the existing sewage pipeline could make a potential problem much more stinky.
“I didn’t realize we were essentially Tampa’s toilet going all the way up to Fowler Avenue. There is a lot of sewage going through us,” said resident Sam Hallenbeck. He’s lived in the neighborhood for 18 years.
Residents are essentially sitting on a ticking time bomb -- the pipeline put down in 1951 was only made to last 75 years. City leaders say it’s reaching its limit.
It runs through Harbor Island and ends at the Howard F. Curren Wastewater Treatment Plant. It carries 30 percent of the city's wastewater, which is more than 15 million gallons a day.
It's why Tampa leaders hosted a meeting Wednesday night to make residents aware of the problem and talk options for replacement.
Those options aren’t sitting well residents who say construction always takes longer than expected.
"We’re not quite sure where anything stands right now. 'Invasive' is not even the word of what it would be. There are plenty of avenues to carry out this project in the water. That would be the least invasive,” Hallenbeck said.
City leaders say the project is still in the beginning phases and the timeline for how long the project will take is unclear. It could be five years or more.
The money for it will come from what all Tampa residents pay in utilities. It’s not expected to cost additional tax dollars.
“The main concern for the people who live in Harbour Island is the fact that the city will not as a first option look at the all-water route and will continue to rip up the island," Hallenbeck said. "What we don’t like to see is the city telling us, 'OK, we have a problem and the pipe will burst. Put it down where we want it or else you’re going to face an environmental disaster.'”
The city says if it isn’t fixed, it will cause environmental and safety concerns.
Residents just hope they have a say in the outcome.
“I understand the line needs to be addressed and fixed, but there are other ways to do it and I hope they take that into account,” Hallenbeck said.
For more information on the Harbour Island Force Main Replacement Design-build project visit http://hiforcemain.com/
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