ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — With just a couple of days left before the official start of hurricane season, St. Petersburg officials said they are continuing work to improve the city’s sewer systems to prevent sewage overflows.

"I want people to feel confident that we have a stronger, better system with a lot more capacity that's able to handle more of those heavy rains like we saw in 2015-2016,” said city spokesman Ben Kirby. 

Neighbors in flood-prone areas like the Shore Acres said they hope the city’s plans are effective.

 "While we understand it's a small price to pay to live in paradise, I'm expecting and hoping that St. Petersburg is constantly working toward building out their infrastructure."

Since overwhelmed sewer systems dumped millions of gallons of raw sewage into Tampa Bay after storms like Hurricane Hermine, the city has committed $300 million dollars to sewer upgrades.

This includes crews working to re-line hundreds of lines of pipe, reinforcement of manhole covers and adding additional capacity at wastewater treatment plants.

Additional capacity became a key issue for the city after it closed the Albert Whitted wastewater treatment plant in 2015. This happened despite a consultant report that suggested it stay open for more treatment capacity. Reports suggested the large sewage spills in 2016 could have been reduced or prevented had the plant remained open.

"It's continual work,” said Kirby, who added that the city even brought in canine help to work on the issue. “I hope we can assure people that we have a better system than we had a few years ago."

Emerald Morrow is a reporter with 10News WTSP. Like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. You can also email her at emorrow@wtsp.com.

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