The St. Petersburg’s Water Resources Department has been conducting water sampling and analysis since the city’s early August decision to pump over 15 million gallons of untreated sewage into Clam Bayou after heavy rains saturated the area, an action the city referred to in an October 27 press release as “wastewater overflow into the Clam Bayou Regional Stormwater Treatment Pond.”
The city of St. Petersburg had been sampling water from the detention pond, Clam Bayou and the bay and analyzing samples for, according to the city, “a number of chemical and biological constituents,” though the main analysis was for fecal coliform levels. Gulfport Beach and Gulfport’s Municipal Marina have been closed intermitently over the last few months due to unsafe levels in the water. Clam Bayou had been closed since August. Officials predicted that the bayou would flush out the sewage naturally, and the water quality has been improving overall. The bayou was finally declared “safe” the week before the nature preserve’s bi-annual cleanup on October 17.
According to the city of St. Petersburg, “all of the samples have consistently shown fecal coliform levels within the criteria for the Florida Department of Health’s Healthy Beaches Program” for more than a week. Because of that, the city is terminating the sampling program and water quality warning signs in the bayou have been removed.
Gulfport City Manager Jim O’Reilly says that the city of Gulfport, however, will continue its own daily testing of Gulfport Beach, the marina and, in light of St. Petersburg’s announcement, will now be testing the portion of Clam Bayou that is within Gulfport. Those results are viewable on the city’s website, mygulfport.us.