St. Pete says discharge never reached the bay; its own report says otherwise.
ST. PETERSBURG — The city said not one of the 266,000 gallons of reclaimed water released on Jan. 18 reached Tampa Bay.
There was no mention of the waste released from the Northeast Water Reclamation Facility ever reaching the bay in the city’s notice of the discharge to residents, or the notification sent to state environmental officers.
And that assurance was repeatedly made by city officials, first weeks later to the City Council, and then to the Tampa Bay Times.
That’s still the city’s official story. Yet officials also have in their possession a report that reached a different conclusion: there is a "high probability" spilled waste flowed into Tampa Bay.
Why does the city’s public pronouncements differ from its internal records? That disconnect is reminiscent of the 2015-16 sewage crisis, in which the administration of Mayor Rick Kriseman was criticized for not being forthcoming as its ailing sewage system released up to a billion gallons of waste — 200 million gallons of which ended up in the bay.
Public works officials, though, say there is no disconnect. The "high probability" finding was made in an after-action report that was the first of its kind, they said, drafted to establish a procedure for documenting spills.
But the report itself? It did not accurately explain the discharge, they said.