Manatee County Government: Latest Updates On Piney Point Reservoirs, Evacuation Orders

MANATEE COUNTY, FL (April 4, 2021) – Local and state officials today said local water supplies are in no danger from the

Piney Point water breech which right now is flowing controlled into Piney Creek and Tampa Bay.

"I want to say that Manatee County Utilities customers can rest assured that our drinking water is completely safe to drink," said County Commission Chairman Vanessa Baugh. "The water distribution system is a closed system without any way for flood water to enter. There is also no threat at all to our primary source of drinking water, Lake Manatee."
Baugh said residents in north Manatee County in the evacuation area who rely on drinking wells for their water also have no cause for concern at this time.

"Well water is unaffected so long as the outfall continues to flow safely into Piney Creek," Baugh said. "If a breech occurs, we believe that the surface layers of dirt and earth will safely filter any harmful nutrients near the surface. In addition, if an uncontrolled breech occurs, the Department of Health will issue any necessary advisories regarding the safety of the well water."
Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein said there is no impact to groundwater from the Piney Point water. He said DEP is actively monitoring controlled discharges to capture any impacts to the environment.

The evacuation order issued by Manatee County is still in effect and residents with any question on the evacuation zone can call Manatee County's call center at 311.

County Administrator Dr. Scott Hopes said state agencies have delivered pipes and a pumping system that should double the amount of water being drawn down safely from the stacks by tomorrow.

"The team is much more comfortable than it was yesterday ... but we're not out of the critical area yet," Hopes said.

In order to avoid confusion and to make sure consistent messaging occurs, all media updates will be provided during the press conference and on the County's two primary Twitter feeds, @mcgpublicsafety and @manateegov.

The County's next scheduled media briefing will be tomorrow, April 5 at 12:30 p.m. with Congressman Vern Buchanan providing remarks.

MANATEE COUNTY, FL (April 3, 2021) – Manatee County Public Safety officials this evening expanded a mandatory evacuation area around the breached Piney Point reservoir. The original evacuation zone has expanded one half mile west and one mile southwest to Moccasin Wallow Road (see map below). Use the resident information tool to see if you are in the evacuation zone. 

The closure of U.S. 41 will be expanded south from Buckeye Road to Moccasin Wallow Road. Moccasin Wallow Road will be closed west of 38th Avenue East. There are an estimated 316 households in the evacuation area. Those households will all receive an emergency alert to evacuate shortly. With no special needs patients or assisted living facilities in the effected area, no public shelters are planned to open for this event.

"Thankfully the evacuation area does not include any major residential areas, and the homes within Artisan Lakes are not in the evacuation area," said Public Safety Director Jacob Saur. "If you live within the evacuation area, you need to find shelter with friends and family outside of the evacuation zone now."

Saur said if residents within the evacuation zone need help, they should call Manatee County's 311 Call Center which will connect residents with Red Cross resources.

Between 2 and 3 million gallons per day of saltwater continues to flow out of the pond but the are chances are increasing that a large section of the pond will wash away causing an uncontrolled release that would send as much as 380 million gallons of process water rushing out.

MANATEE COUNTY, FL (April 4, 2021) – Manatee County Commissioners, Public Safety Officials and Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein will provide a media briefing today at 2 p.m. to talk about the latest efforts to address the compromised phosphogypsum stack at the Piney Point reservoirs. The press conference will be held at 2101 47th Terrace East in Bradenton.

The evacuation order issued by Manatee County is still in effect and residents with any question on the evacuation zone can call Manatee County's call center at 311.

The Florida National Guard is working in unison with the Florida Department of Emergency Management and is currently dropping off additional pumps to begin safely releasing some of the water from the Piney Point reservoirs.

Manatee County Commissioners are continuing to stand ready to respond with any financial or human resource needs in order to assist the brave men and woman responding at the site of the stack.

In order to avoid confusion and to make sure consistent messaging occurs, all media updates will be provided during the press conference and on the County's two primary twitter feeds, @mcgpublicsafety and @manateegov.

MANATEE COUNTY, FL (April 3, 2021) – Manatee County Government and Florida Department of Environmental Protection today announced that crews working on site of the Piney Point reservoirs are doing their best to control the outflow at the breach of between 2 and 3 million gallons of water per day.

The reservoirs are located just east of U.S. 41 and north of Buckeye Road. Both roads are closed to vehicular traffic.

"I want to thank the brave men and women who have been working literally around the clock to minimize any impacts that this situation may have for public safety," said County Commission Chairman Vanessa Baugh. "Led by our Public Works and Emergency Management teams, crews worked up until 2:30 a.m. today to try to reinforce the berm wall of the breached areas of the gyp stacks. Those efforts were, unfortunately, unsuccessful." Later she added that Manatee Sheriff's Office has said residents within the evacuation zone are believed to be out and safe.

Another 32 million gallons of water per day is being safely drawn down by pumps to a drain into Tampa Bay from the top of the 79-acre pond. An estimated 380 million gallons of high-nutrient saltwater remain in the pond.

"Manatee County Government has taken the necessary steps to protect the citizens, business owners and, of course, the environment of Manatee County," said Dr. Scott Hopes, Manatee County Administrator. "Their health and safety is our number one priority."

He thanked the many government agencies assisting with the response, including Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Florida Department of Emergency Management, Florida Department of Transportation, the state and regional Incident Management Team, the Florida Highway Patrol, Manatee Sheriff's Office, Manatee County Public Safety, Public Works and Parks and Natural Resources Departments and the County Commission.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, Manatee County's next media briefing will be tomorrow, April 4 at 2 p.m.

MANATEE COUNTY, FL (April 3, 2021) – Local and state officials will provide a media briefing today at 1 p.m. to talk about the latest efforts to address the compromised phosphogypsum stack at the Piney Point reservoirs. The press conference will be held just off Scale Avenue near U.S. 41.

Representatives from Manatee County Public Safety and the Florida of Department of Environmental Protection will offer updates.

MANATEE COUNTY, FL (April 1, 2021) – Manatee County Commissioners today declared a local state of emergency after receiving an update from HRK regarding the breach at the Piney Point phosphogypsum stack. An uncontrolled breach is not imminent but, if the conditions of the stack worsen, nearby property owners could be impacted by the process water.

The stacks are owned by HRK Holdings, LLC and the environmental oversight falls to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Manatee County Commissioners have pushed for the interested parties to find an environmentally responsible solution, but have no authority over the site. But recognizing a potential threat to local residents and business owners, Commissioners unanimously declared the local state of emergency at the tail end of a regularly scheduled land use meeting today.

The emergency declaration adopted by the Board states:

This press release was produced by Manatee County Government. The views expressed here are the author's own.

  • Press Release Desk, News Partner https://patch.com/
    Posted Sun, Apr 4, 2021 at 5:49 pm ET
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