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Piney Point Reservoir: Engineers Shift Focus To Cleaning Remaining Wastewater

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - Manatee County Administrator Dr. Scott Hopes says the flow of water from Piney Point has stopped and companies are preparing to clean the water that remains in the pond.

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(Credit: Rob Hamilton / 92-9 The Game / CBS Local Sports)

The Piney Point reservoir started off with roughly 480 million gallons of water and over the last week has steadily decrease to 240 million, with a lot of that wastewater being emptied into Tampa Bay.

Manatee County Administrator Dr. Scott Hopes says now the goal is to make sure that 240 million gallons of wastewater is cleaned enough to have no negative environmental impacts.

Samantha Turestsky, St. Petersburg resident, says her reaction was that of "horror and unfortunately, not surprised." She says seeing wastewater from the old Piney Point phosphate plant going into Tampa Bay is upsetting. "I think about the wildlife and the environmental impacts this is going to have."

Officials say they have been working non-stop to minimize the environmental impact from the reservoir breach that started last Friday, but Turestsky who is an environmental activist says she's worried about how many animals the water will kill. "It's going to affect plant life, animal life, and those are interlocking things. One can't survive without the other."

92-9 The Game's Tailgate Fest
(Credit: Rob Hamilton / 92-9 The Game / CBS Local Sports)

Dr. Hopes says not all the water is going into Tampa Bay, though. Some of the toxic water has been diverted into an unused pond nearby and some will go into an injection well that will be drilled nearby. He adds, on Saturday, teams will attempt to drop a large steel plate over the breached area of the reservoir, and once that is done, the focus will shift to cleaning water still remaining in the pond before moving it to the Bay or the injection well.

Turestsky recently signed a petition created by in response to the Piney Point leak. She says, "Putting in better safe guards for the storage and disposal of this wastewater." Going forward, she hopes this situation isn't repeated. "Unfortunately, I think people have a short memory when it comes to things like this, especially when you have that special distance and it's not happening directly to you or affecting your family."

Dr. Hopes says if there is any damage to vegetation, such as grass beds, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has agreed to replant them and help in any way possible.

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