MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — It’s been a little over a year since the disastrous Piney Point leak that poured 200 million gallons of untreated wastewater into Tampa Bay.
Now, drillers say they’ve reached the desired depth for the injection well that’s going to put treated wastewater from the facility’s reservoirs deep into the ground.
“I don’t trust it at all," Skye Grundy, a lifetime Manatee County neighbor who lives less than a mile away from the drill site, said. "Not at all, you don’t know what’s going to happen over time.”
Grundy had to quickly evacuate her family during the leak last Spring.
Since then, she says not enough has been done to make her feel safe about the deep-injection well that will be pumping a million gallons of wastewater into the ground every day for two years.
“I would actually prefer them to bring us city water," Grundy said, speaking about county leaders. "I think that as a part of the emergency money that they got, that should have been first in their plans. To take care of the residents, to make sure that we’re safe. That’s not happening. They have not come out and tested our water.”
Pete Larkin, a rep from the consulting firm hired by the county at the injection site said the desired depth of the dig is deeper in the ground than the aquifer where drinking water comes from. He says the drinking water aquifer, and the aquifer where the wastewater will be pumped, are separated by a thick underground layer.
“It is not used for any other purposes in this region," Larkin said. "It is a good zone for the purposes of what we’re trying to accomplish here.”
So, we asked...what are the chances of this polluting drinking water in the area?
"It’s almost impossible for that to happen, in our opinion," Larkin said. "Just based on the data that we’ve collected on this confining unit, and how dense it is. We feel like there’s just not an opportunity for that to interact with the overlying underground sources of drinking water."
But Grundy says, at this point, she just can’t trust that.
“We’re the ones who are going to deal with the outcomes," she said.
The Florida Department of Environment Protection is overseeing the project, saying they plan to ensure that this is “the last chapter in the long history of Piney Point.” Drillers say they still have to build a pre-treatment plant on the site, and are racing to get it done by the 2023 rainy season.