Pinellas: Sewer/stormwater task force

The Pinellas County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday initiated a countywide sewer/stormwater task force with the goal of solving continuing sanitary sewer system issues throughout the county.

The decision came on the heels of a recommendation by Pinellas County Commission Chairman Charlie Justice. Recent severe weather impacts on the complex network of city, county and private sewer systems prompted a need to more comprehensively assess and evaluate the infrastructure, Justice said.

“I believe that this collective task force could facilitate more beneficial outcomes through greater collaboration, closer communication and mutual support when needed, as well as enable all task force partners to better solve the key wastewater system issues we face: capacity and inflow/infiltration,” said Justice.

The proposed countywide sewer/stormwater task force would be comprised of the County, 13 municipal partners and three private utility systems, all working toward improved management of wastewater systems and mitigation of emergency situations countywide.

Once established, the task force is expected to create long-term, comprehensive solutions for stormwater inflow and groundwater infiltration issues, as well as identify the potential need for increased countywide system capacity. Capacity is directly impacted by the amount of stormwater flowing into the sewer system and the amount of groundwater penetrating the system.

County commissioners emphasized the value of strong, existing partnerships and the opportunity to improve countywide management of stormwater and effluent in the sanitary sewer system, especially during heavy rain events.

“Our residents want solutions, and they look to their elected officials for proactive action,” said Justice. “By coming together with our partners, we can lay the groundwork for better reaction to emergencies, improving our infrastructure and, ultimately, providing better services for our citizens.”