Water-Related News

Environmental groups settle sewage lawsuit against St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — Three environmental groups on Monday agreed to settle a federal lawsuit with the city to hold St. Petersburg accountable for spilling hundreds of millions of gallons of sewage in 2015 and 2016.

If a judge approves the settlement, it will end up costing the city a total of $900,000 — so far. That figure could break the $1 million mark if St. Petersburg also has to pay the plaintiffs' legal fees.

The three groups — Suncoast Waterkeeper, Inc., the Our Children's Earth Foundation and the Ecological Rights Foundation — reached the settlement nearly two years after filing the lawsuit in the Middle District of Florida in Tampa.

The December 2016 suit accused St. Petersburg of engaging in "serious and ongoing" violations of the federal Clean Water Act. The city discharged up to 1 billion gallons of wastewater from 2015-16 during the well-documented sewage crisis. While most was pumped underground, up 200 million gallons was dumped into local waterways, including Tampa Bay.