Suncoast Waterkeeper (“SCWK”), Our Children’s Earth Foundation (“OCE”), ManaSota-88, and Tampa Bay Waterkeeper (“TBWK”) have filed another Sixty-Day Notice of Violations of Clean Water Act and Notice of Intent to File Suit for serious and ongoing violations of the federal Clean Water Act (“CWA”) by the City of Bradenton, which has repeatedly sent raw and partially treated sewage into the Manatee River, storm drains, streams, neighborhoods, and local waters including Wares Creek, Palma Sola Creek, and Palma Sola Bay which flow into Lower Tampa Bay, Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
A 60-day notice is the required first step of filing a formal lawsuit in Federal Court. Today’s notice to Bradenton follows successful Clean Water Act municipal sewage enforcement cases resulting in settlements with St. Petersburg, Gulfport, Sarasota County and most recently, Largo. If no resolution is achieved within the 60-day timeframe, litigation will proceed.
According to Bradenton’s own reports, within the last four years, over 160 million gallons of raw and partially treated sewage was dumped into the Manatee River, bypassing the City’s treatment plant. Most recently, the City bypassed 13 million gallons in August of 2021. The City’s sampling data confirms that its bypasses resulted in high levels of fecal coliform and enterococci bacteria in the Manatee River.
Similarly, during that time frame, the City has discharged millions more gallons of raw sewage from their aging sewage collection system, which is plagued by structural deficiencies. The result is excessive infiltration and inflow of stormwater and groundwater during wet weather. This excessive infiltration and inflow has caused and will continue to cause repeated sewage spills that not only contain human waste, but also contain various toxic chemicals from the solvents, detergents, cleansers, inks, pesticides, paints, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals discarded by households and businesses from the City into local waterways.
Unfortunately many of the City's own reports are missing from public records, contributing to a lack of awareness on the part of the public and possibly the City Council and administration. Both the City and the Department of Environmental Protection appear to have failed the public's need and desire for transparency and adequate regulation.
These spills contribute to declining conditions in our region’s waterways. The groups believe the City of Bradenton’s persistent exceedances of its allocation for Total Nitrogen, its repeated bypasses of millions of gallons of partially treated sewage, and its sanitary sewer overflows of raw and partially treated sewage and reclaim water have contributed to seagrass losses and to increased harmful algal blooms or “HABs” in the Tampa and Sarasota Bay Estuaries. The harmful toxins produced as a result of HABs give rise to severe human health consequences, economic and social impacts, as well as harm to the environment.