Pumping sewage underground is illegal. St. Pete wants it legal.
The city wants the state to change its environmental rules to make legal an illegal maneuver it has relied on a lot lately: flushing wastewater down into the aquifer.
The idea was proposed by a consulting firm the city is paying $4 million to create a master plan to guide revamping the sewage system and other water utilities.
Jacobs Engineering project manager Leisha Pica told the City Council on Jan. 4 that this could help improve St. Petersburg’s image after its mishandling of 1 billion gallons of sewage spilled during the 2015-16 sewage crisis.
Legalizing that tactic, she said, would give the city "operational flexibility."
"It seems to be a better perception of the city’s management when you’re doing something that’s not a violation," Pica said at the council meeting, using air quotes when she said "violation."
"So that’s what we’re going for ... It’s a perception of an approach."
The Tampa Bay Times asked the Florida Department of Environmental Protection whether it would consider such a request.
The answer was an emphatic no.