Local authorities in the US state of Florida hope that with additional help from the state, the risk of breaching the embankment of a large reservoir full of wastewater was significantly reduced on Tuesday.
With this extra help, twice as much water can be pumped from the reservoir as the current 80,000 liters per minute. That should ease the pressure on the hole discovered in the reservoir wall on Friday.
At the same time, people are working hard to prevent a “catastrophic flood”. Florida Governor DeSantis said numerous preventive measures have now been taken. For example, highways have been blocked and the first floor of a nearby prison has been evacuated.
Water wall of six meters
Experts insist that the dam at the Piney Point mine could still breach at any time. According to the latest estimates, this could lead to a wall of water about six meters high.
The reservoir, which holds 2 billion gallons of water, belongs to a factory near a now-closed phosphate mine near the city of Tampa. The water is a mix of salt water mixed with waste and rain water. According to the Florida Department of the Environment, it contains elevated levels of phosphorus and nitrogen, and the water is relatively acidic, but is most likely non-toxic.
Any flooding should therefore not endanger Lake Manatee, the region’s main drinking water supply. Environmental organizations doubt that. Too much nitrogen in the water can, for example, lead to accelerated algae growth and thus fish death.