Florida Facing Flood Threat from Wastewater Pond Leak

Florida Facing Flood Threat from Wastewater Pond Leak

Disaster Alert
April 4, 2021

Source: The Weather Channel

Additional Resources:

CNN (Florida Gov. DeSantis Declares a State of Emergency for Tampa-Area Water Waste Issue)

NOTE: This has NOT yet been declared a FEMA Major Disaster.

At a Glance

  • The Manatee County pond holds wastewater from phosphate fertilizer manufacturing.
  • The pond breached Friday and officials warned Saturday it could collapse at any minute.
  • A county official said 340 million gallons of wastewater could flow out of the pond in minutes.
  • Florida has about 25 of these wastewater ponds that sit atop gypsum stacks. Others have breached before.

A 20-foot-tall wall of water could be unleashed in minutes if the wall surrounding a phosphate wastewater pond breaches, a Manatee County government official said Sunday.

About 306 million gallons of polluted saltwater remain in the reservoir that began leaking last week, Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes said.

At a news conference at 11 a.m. Sunday, Hope said up to a 20-foot wall of water could form in less than an hour, based on models, if the pond breached.

The pond was once used to store waste from a plant at the site that turned phosphate into fertilizer. Officials in Manatee County on Florida’s Gulf Coast ordered residents of more than 300 homes near the site to evacuate immediately Saturday.

“What we’re looking at now is trying to prevent — and respond to if need be — a catastrophic flood issue,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at the Sunday morning briefing.

DeSantis said the water is not radioactive, even though the gypsum stack that the pond sits on is mildly radioactive. The governor said the water is mostly saltwater from a dredging project years ago and the “process water” from the old fertilizer plant. That process water is high in phosphorus and nitrogen, nutrients that can cause algae blooms in rivers and bays.

Much of the water has already been drained into Port Manatee, which sits at the mouth of Tampa Bay. DeSantis said pumps are sending 33 million gallons a day from the pond to the bay. He also said the Florida National Guard is flying more pumps to the top of the gypsum berm around the pond to pump more water.

For full report, please click the source link above.