Under Miami Dade County Water and Sewer Department's federally-mandated Consent Decree agreement with the U.S. EPA and Florida Department of Environmental Protection, they are required to issue periodic status reports. The 11th status report was recently released and covers the period of January 1, 2019, to June 30, 2019.
During this period, 54 sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) occurred. SSOs are just what they sound like -- sewage spills. According to the EPA, SSOs can contaminate our waters, cause serious water quality problems, can cause property damage and can threaten public health.
The 54 overflows that occurred from January to June this year resulted in a combined total volume of 1,560,217 gallons total! Of the 54 spills, 12 were larger spills of 10,000 gallons or greater.
These SSOs were caused by a variety of factors including contractors breaking force mains, rags and debris blocking up pump stations, and other mechanical or equipment failures.
Of the 42 smaller SSOs, 20 were caused by grease, rags, rocks, debris, or other blockages. A good reminder to keep wipes out of the pipes!
The EPA found that Miami-Dade County addressed the SSOs in a timely and appropriate manner and that the Consent Decree, through its programs, deliverables, and projects, is able to adequately address the causes of these SSOs and eliminate them in the future. The next status report will review July 1st through December 31st, 2019 and will be released in 2020.
Miami Dade County's Consent Decree requires a $1.6 billion investment in the wastewater infrastructure of this region. But, there is still work to be done. Miami Waterkeeper mobilized this September in response to proposed budget cuts for water and sewer infrastructure. "1.5 million gallons of sewage spilled from January to June is 1.5 million gallons too many," says Miami Waterkeeper General Counsel Kelly Cox, "Miami Dade County needs to invest in our water in the interest of public and environmental health."
Read more about our work on clean water and sewage spills here.