water quality press

Initial tests come back clear for Key Biscayne beaches after sewage plant spill

Initial tests come back clear for Key Biscayne beaches after sewage plant spill

Click here to read the article in the Key Biscayne Independent

By Tony Winton

Originally Published: October 17, 2023

Crandon Park beach on Key Biscayne, May 28, 2023. An initial water test has come back clear after three million gallons of wastewater spilled Saturday night. No swimming advisories were issued as a precaution. If a repeat test comes back clear, the warnings will likely be lifted, officials said. File. (KBI Photo/Theo Miller)

A no-swim advisory is still in effect for Key Biscayne beaches, but there’s a sign they could be cleared for bathing as early as Wednesday evening. 

Water tests conducted Tuesday by Miami-Dade County officials found that water quality was within acceptable limits, but safety rules require two successive clean test results for the advisory to be lifted. If a repeat test comes back clear tomorrow, advisories will likely be lifted, said Water and Sewer Department spokeswoman Jennifer Messemer-Skold. 

The warnings were posted after about three million gallons of treated wastewater spilled from the department’s plant on Virginia Key Saturday night. It’s not known how much wastewater spilled into Shrimper’s Lagoon, and department trucks vacuumed some of the treated wastewater while it was still on the ground. 

Normally, the wastewater is pumped about a mile and half offshore, but a power failure caused the wastewater to back up, officials said. 

The Village of Key Biscayne issued a statement Tuesday morning indicating that a “high level of bacteria ” had been found, citing Miami Waterkeeper environmental organization. However, a spokeswoman for Waterkeeper said the group’s alert merely repeated the Water and Sewer precautionary advisory and was not based on tests. 

The organization declined to release its own testing conducted Tuesday, saying it did not want to add to public confusion. 

The Florida Department of Health, which also performs tests, has not yet released its tests of Key Biscayne sites.


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