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Environmental groups reach a settlement with Bradenton over sewage spills

Manatee River Lift Bridge in Bradenton
Paul R. Burley
/
Wikipedia Commons
The Manatee River Lift Bridge in Bradenton

The city has said it would use $8 million in federal stimulus money to make the improvements. It will also be required to invest at least $220,000 in projects to improve local waters and estuaries.

Four environmental groups announced Thursday they have reached a settlement of a lawsuit with the city of Bradenton over repeated sewage spills. It comes after the city allowed more than 160 million gallons of partially treated sewage to bypass its sewage treatment plant and flow into the Manatee River the past several years.

The settlement means Bradenton will make improvements to its sewage treatment plant. Those include include increasing pumping and treatment capacity, finding leaks and inspecting all of its pipes.

Justin Bloom is with one of the plaintiffs, Suncoast Waterkeeper.

"We're really happy about the settlement and how Bradenton is committed to investigating the deficiencies in their sewage system and then implementing the fixes that are needed," he said.

The city has announced it would use $8 million in federal stimulus money to make the improvements. It will also be required to invest at least $220,000 in projects to improve local waters and estuaries.

Bloom praised Bradenton for working together with environmental groups to find a solution to the problem.

"I am confident that if Bradenton sticks to the terms of the settlement, that we're not going to be seeing these dramatic large spills and bypasses that we have been seeing over the past five years," Bloom said, "and that their system will operate the way that it ought to be."

Suncoast Waterkeeper, Tampa Bay Waterkeeper, Manasota-88 and Our Children’s Earth Foundation filed the lawsuit last year.

“Citizen suits are critical for addressing pollution problems that would otherwise be ignored," said Annie Beaman, of Our Children’s Earth. "In Bradenton (and many other Florida cities), government officials have been kicking the can down the road for too long. Clean water is a priority, and in coming to the table to settle, the city of Bradenton has demonstrated that it is willing to prioritize water quality. If we invest in clean water now, we will avoid much higher costs to people and the environment in the future.”

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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