Tampa's aging water treatment system struggles to keep up - WNCN: News, Weather

Tampa's aging water treatment system struggles to keep up

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Seven to nine million gallons of untreated wastewater, including storm runoff and debris, even raw sewage, overflowed at Tampa's water treatment plant, at the Port of Tampa, and ended up in Tampa Bay.

Anthony Kasper, director of Tampa's Wastewater Department, explains Friday's disaster as one of the largest wastewater spills in Tampa's history.

"We had personnel manually pulling debris off the rakes themselves, the screens themselves, so that we could free up the screens, get them working again and then free up the flow," Kasper said.

Here's what went wrong:

One of the screens that removes debris from the water broke. So the other two screens had to do double duty. At the same time, Friday's storm hit, and the screens couldn't handle the extra water. When they also broke down, the water was trapped in this building, and eventually overflowed.

Kasper says water quality tests show the water was slightly contaminated on Friday but by Sunday, it was normal. He said the city mentioned the spill in news advisories Friday about the storm impact, but that information was overlooked by other storm news. Citizens, though, were never in danger, he said.

"While it sounds like a huge amount of water, and it was a huge concern for us, proportionately speaking, it's a drop in the bucket for the bay," Kasper said.

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