The term “wastewater” stirs up enough unpleasant images. The last thing you need added to that is “a 20-foot wall” of it, causing evacuations.
Officials in Florida on Sunday warned that “catastrophic flooding” near Tampa could follow a significant leak from a system that stores polluted water.
More than 300 homes near a reservoir were evacuated Saturday.
Gov. Ron DeSantis took an aerial tour and held a press conference later Sunday.
DeSantis and Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes underscored the reality of the situation.
“So if you are in an evacuation area and you have not heeded that, you need to think twice and follow the orders,” Hopes said.
The former phosphate processing plant’s wastewater pond contains hundreds of millions of gallons of wastewater and, according to a Fox News story, has begun to leak amid a break in a containment wall.
But, hey, at least the nasty water is “not radioactive,” according to DeSantis, who added that workers were pumping out 33 million gallons of wastewater per day.
Officials tried to plug the hole in the reservoir pond with rocks and other materials late Friday into Saturday, but the attempt was unsuccessful.
So, if a full failure should occur, some experts estimated approximately 340 million gallons of wastewater led by a 20-foot-high wave could devastate homes in the evacuation area.
According to the Fox News report:
“The Florida National Guard is airdropping pumps that will fit over the plant’s stacks to speed up the pumping process, which currently utilizes 10 vacuum trucks in addition to 20 current pumps.”
Residents who live near the reservoir received a text alert that advised them to leave immediately because a collapse was “imminent.”
The state is working with the Red Cross to provide shelter and resources for the displaced families.