The waters may have subsided after hurricane Hermine, but Florida residents are still dealing with the aftermath. An extraordinary high amount of water has caused a sewage surge, leaving thousands holding their nose in disgust.
Hurricane Hermine is the first to hit the southern state in ten years. Storm surges caused massive flooding in coastal towns, fueled by gusts of wind that reached as high as 80 miles per hour. Close to 300,000 homes were left without electricity and one man was killed when a tree struck a tent he was seeking refuge in.
Cleaning up after a storm of this magnitude is never an easy task, but in Florida, that job is being made even more difficult. Aging sewage systems around the state were unable to handle the excess water flow, causing a public health concern. Tens of millions of gallons of sewage were released into Tampa Bay, along with watersheds in Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, raw sewage and partially treated water began spewing from manholes. This forced certain city authorities to have to dump partially treated water in order to handle the overflow taking place at the state’s wastewater treatment plants.
Authorities noted that the Albert Whitted plant in St. Petersburg discharged approximately 20 million gallons of raw sewage as the storm raged. While this is a noted health and environmental threat, officials state that the plant simply could not handle the sudden swell of rainwater and the sewage that needed to be processed at the same time.
Unknown Amounts of Sewage Affecting the Area
Between August 31st and September 6th, there are 42 reported incidents of sewage being dumped into various bodies of water around the state of Florida or into the manholes. Most alarmingly is that in the majority of incidents, there is no way of knowing how much sewage was released. This has caused an unpleasant odor to linger around a number of cities and raises concerns about public health and the impact on the environment.
State officials and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection are working together to help determine exactly how much sewage was released state-wide, and what effect it is having on local water supplies and natural habitats. City officials are also taking a harder look at their waste treatment plant’s infrastructure in order to find ways of preventing this type of overflow for when the next hurricane hits.