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Miami beaches closed after tropical disturbance causes sewage overflow in Florida


A tropical disturbance that produced nearly a foot of rain in South Florida caused sewage overflows, prompting authorities to issue a no-swim advisory along some popular beaches.

Miami-Dade County said on Saturday that extremely high flows due to flooding and high groundwater levels caused sewer overflows in the central part of the county.

As a result, a no-swimming advisory has been issued for several coastal communities, including South Beach and Virginia Key Beach until further notice.

“It was a capacity issue of so much rain in such a short time,” said Jennifer Messemer of the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department (WASD).

The county sewage treatment plant is licensed to receive an annual average daily flow of 143 million gallons of sewage and has reported continuous flows of more than 310 million gallons of sewage and water from rain Saturday.

Messemer says nearly a foot of water caused the facility’s sewage to overflow.

The county said untreated water has the potential to mix with floodwaters and flow into nearby streams.

“We are working hard to monitor our water quality and ensure public safety while mitigating issues related to the extremely heavy rainfall received during this severe weather event,” WASD director Roy Coley said in a statement.

The Florida Department of Health will take samples over several days to determine if the water is safe for recreational use.

The no-swim warnings are expected to remain in effect until the agency achieves two consecutive days of normal readings.

Miami-Dade County is no stranger to sewer backups, and Environment Florida says the area has a history of sewer system failures.

Miami-Dade County said high flows due to flooding and high groundwater levels caused sewer overflows in the central part of the county.
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“In 2016, a study of recent floodwater from the Royal Tide pumped into Biscayne Bay found that sewer line leaks are prevalent in Miami Beach,” the organization writes. “And in 2012, federal authorities forced Miami-Dade County to overhaul its sewer system after it ruptured more than 65 times in two years.”

Sewer problems stretch throughout the state and usually become evident during tropical troubles.

During Hurricane Irma in 2017, it is estimated that more than 28 million gallons of sewage spilled into waterways, neighborhoods and areas that should not be polluted.

Miami beaches closed after tropical disturbance causes sewage overflow in Florida
A man uses a stick to unclog sewer drainage on the corner of Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood on June 4, 2022.
PA

Environment Florida said that equates to every person in the city of Miami flushing the toilet 38 times.

Even though this tropical disturbance wasn’t a hurricane or even a tropical storm, nearly a foot of rain was enough to cause big trouble.

Messemer said the county is working to improve the sewer system, so problems like this don’t happen again.

“The county is working on a multi-billion dollar capital improvement program to improve and modernize water and sewer infrastructure,” Messemer said.

Miami-Dade Water and Sewer has reached a federally mandated settlement to improve wastewater collection and treatment to the tune of $1.6 billion over the next few years.

The program will make improvements to the sanitary sewer collection system, pumping stations and other important infrastructure in hopes that scenes of sewage leaks in communities will become a sight of the past.

New York Post

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