St. Pete City Council delays vote on consent order on sewage crisis
For more than a year, state Department of Environment Protection officials have been investigating the city’s sewage crisis in talks, eventually resulting in a proposed consent order that City Council members were poised to approve Thursday.
But that drawn-out process just got a little longer. Council chairwoman Darden Rice said Wednesday that council consideration of the item has been pushed back for at least a week.
City Attorney Jackie Kovilaritch will incorporate suggestions from council members about the order and resubmit it to the DEP. The DEP had already signed it, Rice said.
The order, including costs, has $820,000 in penalties for the city’s discharge of about 200 million gallons since August 2015. The city will almost certainly forgo the fine by paying for pollution control projects of an equivalent amount. The order also mandates that the city spend hundreds of millions of dollars upgrading its system, something Mayor Rick Kriseman has already pledged to do.
Council member Steve Kornell has suggested that the city incorporate a commitment to continue replacing pipes and manhole covers to minimize stormwater and groundwater intrusion into sewer pipes beyond the 2022 deadline in the existing order.
Kornell told the Tampa Bay Times last week that he wanted to make sure that the city is obligated to keep on top of its system so it doesn’t start to deteriorate after the order expires.