Recently, a status report on sanitary sewer overflows in Miami-Dade County was released. The report covers the period of July 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018 and is required as part of the County's federally-mandated Consent Decree agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. During this status report period, there were a total of 47 Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs) with a combined total volume of 649,491 gallons of sewage released into the environment.
Miami Dade Water and Sewer workers unclog an impeller blocked with wipes and other debris. Photo Credit: Miami Herald.
The report states that Miami-Dade County timely and appropriately responded to and addressed these sewer overflows. Only 8 of these overflows were 10,000 gallons or greater. The overflows that were 10,000 gallons or greater were the result of a variety of issues including force main breaks.
The remaining 39 SSOs were caused by contractors breaking force mains, leaking or broken force mains, corrosion, inadequate supervision, and vandalism among other things.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently believes that Miami-Dade County is appropriately reporting and responding to SSOs and that the Consent Decree contains the necessary provisions to adequately address the causes of these sewage overflows now and in the future.
However, a recent report by the Miami Herald took a deep dive into these spills -- including a more than 700,000-gallon spill in the Sunny Isles beach area in February of this year. This spill was a result of improperly flushed rags and other debris - but also, the County's failure to acquire replacement pump parts in time. The spill resulted in a swimming advisory in areas including Haulover Beach and Oleta River State Park.
Miami Dade County's Consent Decree requires a $1.6 billion investment in the wastewater infrastructure of this region. But, with these spills - it feels like we aren't moving fast enough. "Miami Dade County experiences sewage spills several times a month," says Miami Waterkeeper General Counsel Kelly Cox, "our beaches, waterways, and communities deserve better."
Read more about our work on clean water and sewage spills here.