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City Agrees to Improvements in Wastewater Settlement

BRADENTON – Four environmental advocacy groups announced on Thursday that a settlement has been reached in a Clean Water Act lawsuit filed against the City of Bradenton related to repeated sewage spills into the Manatee River and local waterways. Suncoast Waterkeeper, Tampa Bay Waterkeeper, Manasota-88, and Our Children’s Earth Foundation had filed the lawsuit in 2021.

"Wastewater systems and water infrastructure are woefully outdated in too many communities throughout Florida,“ said Suncoast Waterkeeper Board Member and Founder Justin Bloom. "The historic lack of investment in our infrastructure harms the health of our communities and waterways. This settlement guarantees that the City of Bradenton will make much-needed upgrades in their wastewater and sewage treatment system.“

Over the past five years, the city illegally bypassed at least 160 million gallons of wastewater away from full treatment before discharging it into the Manatee River. Similarly, during that time, the city discharged millions more gallons of reclaimed and raw sewage from its aging sewage system, which is plagued by structural deficiencies.

"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."

The settlement sets firm deadlines for improvements to the city’s sewage treatment plant, including increasing pumping and treatment capacity and upgrading disinfection capabilities. The city will also have to address issues in the collection system, including assessing the condition of pipes, finding leaks, and ensuring the availability of backup power. Additionally, the city will update its capacity, management, operation, and maintenance programs for its sewage collection system.

"The public has a right to know what is flowing into our waterways and how municipalities are managing their wastewater systems,“ said Glenn Compton of ManaSota-88. "Reporting has been lacking. This settlement lays out protocols for how the city needs to report spills and diversions and also requires the development of a website that will provide the public with up-to-date information on water quality and incidents.“

The City of Bradenton will also be required to invest at least $220,000 in projects to improve local waters and/or estuarine habitats.

"The city’s approach to the lawsuit was collaborative and highly productive, “said Justin Tramble, Executive Director of Tampa Bay Waterkeeper. "The parties worked together to understand the issues and negotiate solutions, resulting in the detailed work requirements reflected in the settlement. The city is clearly committed to focusing on fixing its sewage infrastructure issues as soon as possible.“

The settlement is a part of an ongoing effort by environmental advocacy groups to protect waterways through legal action. Clean Water Act suits filed by the groups have already resulted in critical upgrades to sewage and wastewater systems throughout the Tampa and Sarasota Bay Estuaries.


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