April 21, 2021
Today, three local environmental groups and the City of Largo have reached an agreement with a shared goal of achieving improved water quality in Old Tampa Bay and other local waters. The coalition of citizen groups—Tampa Bay Waterkeeper, Suncoast Waterkeeper, and Our Children’s Earth Foundation—have reached a settlement with the City to address wastewater infrastructure problems that have contributed to bacteria contamination and led to consistent nutrient pollution during recent years.
Reducing the total amount of nitrogen the City discharges to surface waters was the central issue for the environmental groups. The parties have now agreed that the City will maintain its commitment to reduce its nitrogen loading into Old Tampa Bay by completing construction of its $53 million Biological Treatment Improvements Project at its wastewater treatment plant by a firm date, accelerate its $4 million yearly average commitment, and expand its efforts to upgrade and improve the City’s wastewater collection and treatment systems to reduce storm water inflow and infiltration as well as sewer overflows. The City also commits to reduce the
concentration of Dichlorobromomethane that discharges into Old Tampa Bay as soon as possible, by completing its planned Disinfection System Project at its wastewater treatment plant by a firm date.
These measures will reduce pollution to local waterways, increase the resilience of the City’s environmental infrastructure, address excess nitrogen, while also reducing the risk of sewer overflows throughout the city. In addition to the work focused on upgrading and improving its
sewage infrastructure, the City will also support local ecosystem restoration efforts via a contribution of $100,000 to the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, to support projects in Old Tampa Bay for nutrient reduction, habitat restoration, and water quality monitoring or improvements.
The agreement is memorialized in a settlement lodged in federal court today in the matter of Tampa Bay Waterkeeper, et al. v. City of Largo (Civil Case No. 8:20-cv-01742-CEH-AAS, M.D. Florida).
“The City of Largo remains committed to improving water quality in the local area and making the necessary planned corrections to its wastewater treatment and collection system in order to meet the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Consent Order deadline,” said Henry Schubert, City Manager, City of Largo. “Suncoast Waterkeeper works to protect our region’s water resources and holds polluters accountable. Along with other stakeholders, we’ve been working hard to reduce nitrogen and other pollutants so we can all enjoy swimmable and fishable waters for the communities that rely on healthy waterways,” said Joe McClash, Board Chair of Suncoast Waterkeeper. “Largo is a key stakeholder and is stepping up to do its part.”
Tampa Bay Waterkeeper is encouraged to see the City of Largo commit to these significant improvements. Through Largo’s efforts and the good work that comes from their contribution to the Tampa Bay Estuary Program we look forward to seeing water quality and habitat improve in Old Tampa Bay,” said Megan Eakins, Board Chair of Tampa Bay Waterkeeper.
“Florida’s coastal waters are essential to life in our state, and so much of our economy depends on clean water and healthy aquatic ecosystems. For half a century, local officials, business owners, environmental advocates, and other water enthusiasts have acted upon their shared commitment to improving and maintaining water quality in the Tampa Bay Area. Local governments are stepping up as well, and these municipalities
are crucial partners in the ongoing effort to preserve and protect what we love,” said Tiffany Schauer, Founder & Board President of Our Children’s Earth Foundation.
For more information, please contact:
Jerald Woloszynski, P.E., City of Largo Engineering Services Department
(727) 587-6713, firstname.lastname@example.org
Justin Bloom, Suncoast Waterkeeper & Tampa Bay Waterkeeper
(941) 275-2922, email@example.com
Annie Beaman, Our Children’s Earth Foundation
(510) 910-4535, firstname.lastname@example.org