Hillsborough, Port Tampa Bay, Water Utility Seek Link Between Piney Point and Red Tide

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RedTide HillsCo depComm public In: Hillsborough, Port Tampa Bay, Water Utility Seek Link Between Piney Point and Red Tide | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River

“there is a preponderance of evidence, circumstantial evidence,” [that  red tide is exacerbated by Piney Point’s polluted waters.]

Knowing this is true, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection still has as their only solution to Piney Point the dumping of the water into the Gulf.

See the original article with audio here in the Tampa Bay Times.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
[email protected]
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum


 

Hillsborough, Port Tampa Bay, Water Utility Seek Link Between Piney Point and Red Tide

Hillsborough’s Environmental Protection Commission is told to be prepared to seek legal remedies.

August 19, 2021

TAMPA — There could be a long line of litigants suing the owners of the closed fertilizer plant at Piney Point over the contamination discharge earlier this year.

Two weeks after the state of Florida filed suit in Manatee Circuit Court against property owner HRK Holdings, Hillsborough Commissioner Stacy White said the county’s Environmental Protection Commission should be ready to do likewise. White previously urged Hillsborough County to be similarly prepared if the discharge of 215 million gallons of polluted water into Tampa Bay can be linked directly to the Red Tide blooms and massive fish kills that followed.

“I know the science is complex and we have to establish a cause and effect relationship, a definitive one or as definitive as possible, but if we get to that point I would like for staff … to be prepared,” White said.

His comments Thursday during an Environmental Protection Commission meeting drew immediate endorsements from Commissioners Mariella Smith, Kimberly Overman and Harry Cohen.

“Great, great idea,” said Smith.

“Everybody’s got a vested interest in this one way or another,” Cohen said.

Related: Hillsborough ponders legal remedies for Piney Point spill

The Port Authority is concerned about the cruise industry and the risk that future passengers could book elsewhere if the condition of Tampa Bay discourages visitors, Cohen said.

Tampa Bay Water, Cohen added, is concerned about the future of its water desalination plant on Tampa Bay “and whether or not the filters can handle this polluted water that is coming in.”

A pond holding wastewater at Piney Point, just south of the Hillsborough County line, sprung a leak in March when its plastic liner tore. The state Department of Environmental Protection allowed HRK Holdings to pump water for days into Tampa Bay to relieve pressure on the phosphogypsum stack around the reservoir. High levels of nitrogen in that wastewater may have helped feed a Red Tide bloom that killed hundreds of tons of fish, sickened people and hampered the tourism industry’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Related: Florida sues Piney Point owner over polluted water discharge

Thursday, Tom Ash, assistant director of the water division at the Environmental Protection Commission, said it was too soon to directly connect the contaminated water to Red Tide, but “there is a preponderance of evidence, circumstantial evidence, that it did.”

“One thing we are positive about and have been for many years is that nutrients in the Bay tend to feed and exacerbate these kinds of events. … So what may have been a shorter duration event of Red Tide could perhaps or more likely was perhaps prolonged by this additional influx of nutrients,“ Ash said.

Hillsborough County reported fish kills near downtown Tampa, along Bayshore Boulevard, at MacDill Air Force Base and in residential canals in Apollo Beach.

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