Massive sinkhole appears in Tampa – Swallowing gallons of sewage
A sinkhole that opened beneath a wastewater treatment pond at Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay, Florida, has discharged an estimated 2.5 million gallons of treated wastewater into the ground below, according to state environmental regulators and a theme park spokesperson.
The sinkhole, measuring 15 feet by 15 feet, was discovered by Busch Gardens employees early on November 18, 2023. It formed in the last of a series of three ponds used in the park’s on-site wastewater treatment process, as explained by Brian Humphreys, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).
Upon detecting the sinkhole, Busch Gardens promptly closed a low dam connecting the second and third treatment ponds. However, before this action could prevent further wastewater discharge, an estimated 2.5 million gallons, equivalent to nearly four Olympic-sized swimming pools, had already drained into the ground. The dam between the ponds remained closed as of Friday, Humphreys stated.
The wastewater pond, measuring 550 feet in length, where the sinkhole occurred is situated a few hundred feet northwest of the popular Congo River Rapids water ride, according to spill location coordinates provided by the park.
Ongoing water sampling is being conducted, and Busch Gardens has engaged an engineering firm to develop a plan for addressing the sinkhole, Humphreys added. The FDEP has deployed personnel, including a professional geologist, to Busch Gardens to oversee the park’s response to the incident.