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Plan will reduce wastewater flowing into Sarasota Bay

By Kim Kuizon

SARASOTA – Pat Sellers takes her kayak out as much as she can.

"Right there is the bay, and beyond the bay is the Gulf. I just love it," she said.

On her paddle out of Whitaker Bayou, something catches her eye every time.

"I would see very nasty, white-ish colored water," she said.

That would be the flow of treated wastewater into Whittaker Bayou.

But the City of Sarasota said that flow will soon be stopped.

"We are going to be taking a lot of things out of the bay, which should improve the water quality and the aquatics," said Utilities Director Mitt Tidwell.

For years, the city has been approved and permitted by the state to discharge three million gallons a day of brine from treated drinking water into Hog Creek, which flows into Sarasota Bay.

On Friday, that flow of brine stopped when the Florida Department of Environmental Protection approved a deep water well injection site.

"It is basically a bore hole down into an unusable aquifer where we dispose of the brine," said Gerald Boyce, general manager of City of Sarasota Utilities.

The well is 1,700 feet deep, and the city says nothing there would ever be a source of drinking water.