ANNA MARIA, Fla — Emptying the wastewater into Port Manatee from the Piney Point reservoir might’ve been the quickest way to avoid potential catastrophe, but environmentalists say it’ll likely create other problems.
Second-generation fishing charter captain Justin Moore is worried, too. In business since 1999, and still recovering from the months-long red tide outbreak in 2018, he said he’d already noticed discoloration in the water after a recent pass-through near where the nutrient-rich wastewater is being pumped into the Bay.
We’re used to being on these shorelines and we’ve seen up and downs over the years, but we have a pretty good idea what it should look like,” Moore said. “You could tell things were out of place.”
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection reports more than 35 million gallons of wastewater per day are being removed through a combination of techniques, including at least 26 pumps. As of Monday afternoon, around 300 million gallons of wastewater remained in the breached reservoir.
Fellow Anna Maria Island fishing guide Todd Romine, who said he’d been in the business for 35 years, called the situation alarming but entirely predictable given past environmental issues at Piney Point and elsewhere.
“And unfortunately something of this magnitude has to happen before it brings about awareness to get something done,” Romine said.