Piney Point Pond: How to Check if You're in Toxic Water's Path With Online Tool

Residents in Manatee County, Florida, were under instructions to evacuate due to a leak at a wastewater pond at Piney Point, a former phosphate plant.

Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for the area, and officials warned residents in the evacuation zone that they should leave their homes because of an "imminent uncontrolled release of wastewater." Evacuation orders were expanded on Saturday and about 316 households are within the full evacuation area, according to the Manatee County Public Safety Department.

"Thankfully the evacuation area does not include any major residential areas, and the homes within Artisan Lakes are not in the evacuation area," Public Safety Director Jacob Saur said in a statement. "If you live within the evacuation area, you need to find shelter with friends and family outside of the evacuation zone now."

At the time of the evacuation order, 2 million to 3 million gallons of saltwater per day were flowing out of the pond and chances continued to increase that a "large section" of the pond would wash away. In the event of a full breach, as much as 380 million gallons of process water could rush out.

piney point evacuations reservoir
Evacuations were ordered as officials worry about a full breach of the Piney Point reservoir. Manatee County

Anyone who is unsure if they are in an evacuation zone can check on the Manatee County's website. The resident information tool allows people to search their street address and the Public Safety result box will show either "in evacuation zone" or "not in evacuation zone."

As of Saturday afternoon, officials said there was no danger to the local water supplies and advised residents that it was safe to drink the water because it's in a "closed system" without any way for flood water to enter.

DeSantis said Sunday that officials are pumping about 33 million gallons of water a day from the pond and denied that the water is radioactive. The water being pumped out will relieve pressure on the walls of the reservoir and reduce the likelihood of a full breach that could be catastrophic for the area. The goal is to double the amount of water being pumped out to about 70 million gallons per day.

On Sunday, Saur said a portion of the contaminant wall shifted laterally, signifying that a "structural collapse could occur at any time."

Some families who evacuated were placed in hotels in partnership with the Red Cross, according to Saur, who reminded people that they need to heed the warning to evacuate as it is mandatory.