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Florida is trying to stop a ‘catastrophic flood’ right now. Here’s what we know

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said crews are working to stop the collapse of a wastewater pond

This photo taken by a drone shows the old Piney Point phosphate mine, Saturday, April 3, 2021 in Bradenton, Fla.
This photo taken by a drone shows the old Piney Point phosphate mine on Saturday, April 3, 2021 in Bradenton, Fla.
Tiffany Tompkins, The Bradenton Herald via AP

Florida is trying to stop a potentially “catastrophic flood” from happening.

What’s going on with the Florida pond collapse?

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said over the weekend that crews are trying to stop a large wastewater pond from collapsing in Tampa Bay, The Associated Press reports.

Manatee County officials said such a collapse would have “the potential to gush out 340 million gallons of water in a matter of minutes, risking a 20-foot-high (about 6.1-meter-high) wall of water,” according to The Associated Press.

  • DeSantis said: “What we are looking at now is trying to prevent and respond to, if need be, a real catastrophic flood situation.”

Florida prepares for flood

In response, authorities closed down U.S. 41 and called for evacuations of more than 300 homes. Families flocked to Florida hotels in the meantime, per The Associated Press.

  • DeSantis also called for a state of emergency for Manatee County, according to NPR.

Officials warned residents that there would be an uncontrolled release of the wastewater at any moment, saying there is an “imminent threat” of such a release, according to ABC News.

Is the Florida water toxic?

DeSantis said the water isn’t toxic or radioactive, according to NPR. He said it is mostly saltwater “mixed with legacy process water and stormwater runoff.”

  • Per NPR, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection said the water “meets water quality standards for marine waters with the exception of pH, total phosphorus, total nitrogen and total ammonia nitrogen. It is slightly acidic, but not at a level that is expected to be a concern.”

Per ABC News, there’s also no threat to Lake Manatee, which serves as the main source of drinking water in the area.