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ECKERD COLLEGE
August 5, 2015

OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT

Elizabeth Abernethy, AICP


Zoning Official
Planning and Economic Development DRC Division
City of St Petersburg
P.O. Box 2842
St Petersburg, FL 33731

Dear Ms. Abernethy,


Eckerd College has previously provided the Development Review Commission (DRC) a letter
with number of requested conditions related to the application for Special Exemption to be
heard on August 5th related to the expansion and renovation plans for the Southwest Waste
Water Reclamation Facility (SWWRF) adjacent to the Eckerd College campus on 54th Ave South.
In that letter Eckerd asked that any approval of the Special Exemption be conditioned upon the
City accomplishing specific actions that will provide for the safety of vehicles traveling on the
Pinellas Bayway and additionally enable Eckerd to preserve and maintain the well-being and
quiet enjoyment of the campus by the approximately 1,800 students who make Eckerd their
home; as well as the faculty and staff who work there; plus the thousands of visitors and guests
coming to the campus during the year.
However, the extremely offensive effluent overflow event from the SWWRF on Monday
revealed serious shortcomings in the City planning and design for the SWWRF expansion and
improvements. This failure and oversight is the basis for Eckerd asking that additional critically
needed changes in the City Plans for how it handles the entire Sanitary System be included as
required conditions for any Special Exemption granted by the DR C.
In starting the diversion of the six million gallons of sewage from the Albert Whited facility the
City plans apparently failed to consider or predict the effects that heavy rains would have in
causing the volume of storm water entering the sanitary system to increase past the remaining
reduced 15% capacity of the SWWRF that overwhelms and prevents the safe operation of the
facility. This has resulted in the treatment tanks overflowing causing large amounts of waste
water effluent to flood out of the plant and across the adjoining campus properties. This is an
extremely disgusting event that has never before happened.
In the events of Monday the flooding effluent waters were up to 18 inches deep on Avenue of
the States in front of the Administration building where prospective parents park to tour the
campus. Before the diversion of sewage from the Albert Whitted facility City engineers stated
publicly that the SWWRF was operating at 45% of its design capacity. Following the diversion

4200 54th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, Florida 33711 727.864.8211 800.456.9009 727.864.1877 fax
Related by Covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA)

we are told the plant is now operating at 85% of capacity; leaving a relatively small margin of
extra capacity to handle and prevent the kinds of overflows as has happened this week.
The recent heavy rains have revealed this
serious planning oversight and are the first
heavy rains since the diversion from Albert
Whitted began.
The photo shows Avenue of the States, the
main roadway through the campus closed
and under 18" of effluent.

Similar heavy rains are common with


Tropical and Hurricane events which
because of this planning failure and
oversight cause Eckerd great concern for
the likelihood of future effluent overflow
and flooding events from the SWWRF. The
addition of the recently approved fifteen
million gallon rejected reclaimed water
storage tank would not have prevented this
volume of effluent overflow across the
Eckerd campus. In addition the design and
construction plans the City has publicly
presented related to the expansion and
renovations to the SWWRF do not include
features or capabilities that will enable and ensure the City has the ability to prevent future
overflows during similar heavy rainfall events as are common during tropical in hurricane
events.
The event this week demonstrates very dramatically that Eckerd College is at significant and
unacceptable risk from the operation of the SWWRF. Therefore, in order to reduce some of
this risk Eckerd requests that should the DRC approve the issuance of the Special Exemption
currently being requested by the City, that any approval be conditioned upon the following:
1} Before any construction permits be requested or issued for the bio solids or related
project that the expansion and renovation plans for the SWWRF be modified in a
manner that will create and require use of a means and procedures that will effectively
prevent the inflows of any waters to the facility beyond its design capacity; and/or that
could result in an overflow condition; and/or exceed the design capacities of the
treatment processes.

2) The City immediately undertake and complete the construction of a permanent


contiguous containment dike or system surrounding the entirety of the SWWRF
including a watertight gate or device across the ingress and egress driveway that will
hold back overflow waters. This system should be a minimum of five feet high and
contain provision to allow the controlled release of retained water to prevent the
system from being overtopped.
3) The City present in a series of localized events open to the public, the entire City wide
sanitary system management operations with the timelines and costs for any
improvements.
4) The City install and or create a reliable system and process for notifying Eckerd College
in a timely manner of any event occurring, or expected to occur at the SWWRF that has
the potential to impact the operation of the Eckerd campus in any manner, and
specifically in the event of the release of any emissions or any form of effluent waters.
Eckerd supports the need and benefits of the odor control features intended by the renovation
and expansion plans at the SWWRF and if asked or allowed; will work diligently with the City to
develop plans and procedures that will keep the SWWRF operation safe and effective.

Respectfully

William J. McKenna, Jr.


Director: Planning, Development, and Construction
Office of the President