Hurricane Hermine vacated Florida four days ago, but she left an unpleasant fragrance in her wake.
Since the Category 1 storm brushed by Tampa Bay last week, tens of millions of gallons of sewage — much of it partially-treated, plenty of it raw — have been unleashed into the waters of Tampa and Boca Ciega bay and into watersheds all over Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties.
The total so far: 29 million gallons and rising. The city of St. Petersburg continued to spew sewage into the bay on Tuesday while many local governments have yet to report how much they’ve spilled.
Hermine caused problems for sewage systems on both sides of the bay:
Tampa spilled 938,000 gallons into Tampa Bay after a power outage at the height of the storm briefly knocked out the city’s wastewater treatment facility.
Clearwater lost a sewer plant after intake pumps were overwhelmed by heavy rains. The amount of that spill is still being calculated.
Pinellas County discharged 7.3 million gallons of mostly-treated sewage into Joe’s Creek.
But those volumes pale into comparison to what St. Petersburg has dumped into Tampa Bay in a controlled discharge from its shuttered Albert Whitted wastewater treatment plant, which is now used for emergency storage.
As of midmorning on Monday, the city reported to the state Department of Environmental Protection that 20 million gallons had been released. The notification to the state gave no other details.
On Tuesday, unlike other cities around Tampa Bay, Mayor Rick Kriseman and his office weren’t releasing any details about the discharge or the numbers reported to the state.
The mayor’s spokesman Ben Kirby confirmed that as of Tuesday — a day after the city reported the 20 million gallons to the state — the discharge into the bay continued.