Negligent Sewage Dumps
As part of our Sick of Sewage campaign, we identified St. Petersburg as one of the cities in need of repair. Although St. Petersburg, Florida earned the title of "First Green City", it has faced massive and repeated sewage dumps after closing one of its four sewage treatment plants in 2015. The local government failed to disclose the extent and risks of the repeated sewage dumps, causing a lack of trust from the public in their ability to address the issue.
In 2016 heavy rains exacerbated thier sewage issue leading to the mass death of threatened wildlife and likely cuased a red tide event. We notified the city of our intention to file a Clean Water Act citizen suit to address the problem and offered a solution in the form of a model "consent decree" to avoid litigation and would allow the Federal Court to have oversight of long-term sewage system improvements.
Yet St. Petersburg refused to work with us and focused on fighting the lawsuit while negotiating a "consent order" with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection ("DEP"), that was inadequate.
We ultimately reached a settlement agreement with St. Petersburg that accomplishes our goals of ensuring adequate investigation, remediation, planning, financing and oversight under Federal Jurisdiction, while improving public notification of health hazards related to poor water quality and funding of an ecological restoration project through the Tampa Bay Estuary Program.