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Wastewater dumped into Manatee River

BRADENTON – Shortly after noon on Feb. 28, the City of Bradenton’s water reclamation facility experienced an operational failure, causing 1.2 million gallons of partially treated wastewater to be discharged into the Manatee River, according to a Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) pollution notice.

The mouth of the Manatee River flows into the Intracoastal Waterway and the Gulf of Mexico at the north end of Anna Maria Island.

According to FDEP, the filter system at the facility at 1810 First St. W. had a blockage, causing the bypass of the water into the river. The bypass was closed at 5:10 p.m. and river water sampling was started.

City staff cleaned the areas affected and normal operation resumed, according to FDEP.

A Feb. 29 City of Bradenton Instagram post stated: “City of Bradenton’s Wastewater Treatment Facility faced an operational failure, leading to a 90-minute tank overflow due to blockages. A seized bypass valve was manually reopened, and the surrounding curb and gutter area on 17th Avenue, approximately 200 yards, swiftly returned to normal after cleaning and treatment. The city is investigating the system malfunction and collaborating with environmental agencies on discharge and drainage issues.”

“At a time when cities are working to reduce nitrogen overflow into the waters to curb red tide and algae blooms, this spill of partially treated wastewater is high nitrogen water filled with bacteria entering a public water body,” Suncoast Waterkeeper Executive Director Anney Tyrna said.

In 2022, Suncoast Waterkeeper and other environmental groups sued the City of Bradenton following a prior spill. The settlement stipulated that the city improve the wastewater treatment system.

“The city is working toward improving the infrastructure so this doesn’t happen again,” Tyrna said. “The infrastructure is old and in need of repair. Repairs are long overdue, but it takes time to make these repairs.”

Tyrna said with the latest spill, and based on the 2022 settlement terms of the lawsuit, there may be stipulated penalties due from the city to the Tampa Bay Estuary Program.

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