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9M gallons of wastewater bypassed into Manatee River; city says improvements are in the works

BRADENTON – A public notice of pollution was released by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection this week after nine million gallons of partially-treated wastewater had to be bypassed into the Manatee River. The city said excess amounts of rain overloaded its wastewater treatment plant and left them with no choice. The bypass took place during a ten-hour period beginning Monday night and ending Tuesday morning.

“The water was partially-treated. It goes through three levels of treatment, but the water that went through this week river had been treated twice,” said the city’s communications coordinate Jeannie Roberts.

The bypass came as no surprise to Suncoast Waterkeeper Founder Justin Bloom.

“It is 9 million gallons. That is a lot of partially-treated sewage. I think they do some chlorination to reduce some of the pollutants, but that is a significant impact on the Manatee River. This is what has been happening for the last several summers because their sewage system really needs a lot of attention. That is why we brought a lawsuit last year which we settled quickly with the city because they acknowledge that they need to make some significant investments in their infrastructure and that is what they are doing,” said Bloom.

City officials say the lawsuit helped accelerate improvement projects they already had planned. The city has begun the roughly $20 million process of re-lining the sanitary sewer pipes and manhole pipes city-wide. With the upgrade, the city says there wont be as much ‘seepage’ into the pipes during a heavy rain event, therefore making it less likely that the plant will be overwhelmed.