ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS SEND NOTICE OF IMPENDING LAWSUIT TO CITY OF BRADENTON FOR SEWAGE SPILLS TO THE MANATEE RIVER AND OTHER WATERWAYS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 11, 2021
Bradenton, FL - 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.
Justin Bloom, founder and a board member of Suncoast Waterkeeper said, “Bradenton’s sewage woes are unfortunate and follow a familiar pattern of municipalities neglecting critical environmental infrastructure. We hope that Bradenton will follow the path of the other municipalities that we’ve sued and focus their attention of fixing the problems and reducing the sewage pollution that plagues our waterways.”
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 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 into sewage infrastructure during wet weather, causing 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 into local waterways.
“Bradenton’s sewage spills pose a serious public health risk in exposing members of the public to sewage-borne pathogens and various toxic pollutants,” said Annie Beaman of Our Children’s Earth. “This pollution also harms aquatic wildlife and degrades fragile ecosystems. The Manatee River cannot take it, and people deserve clean water. It is time for the City to prioritize water quality. If we invest in clean water now, we can avoid much higher costs to people and the environment in the future.”
These spills contribute to declining conditions in our region’s waterways. 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 reclaimed 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.
“We just endured an incredibly difficult summer, where we witnessed Red Tide kill large quantities of marine life. If we don’t fix these problems, we’re likely to endure more pain in perpetuity. Red Tide and contamination is hurting our local economy, much of which relies on our waterways, said Glenn Compton, Chairman of ManaSota-88. “We have to do better for our quality of life and for future generations.”
"These repeat spills have repercussions that affect all of Tampa Bay." said Megan Eakins, Board Chair of Tampa Bay Waterkeeper. "We hope to be a part of the solution in finding ways to mitigate unnecessary nutrient loads and reduce pollution flowing into our waterways."
Download the Release Here
For more information, please contact:
Justin Bloom, Suncoast Waterkeeper
(941) 275-2922, [email protected]
Glenn Compton, ManaSota-88
(941) 966-6256, [email protected]
Annie Beaman, Our Children’s Earth Foundation
(510) 910-4535, [email protected]