A tropical disturbance that caused nearly a foot of rain in South Florida caused sewage overflows and prompted officials to issue a no-swimming notice at some popular beaches.
Miami-Dade County said Saturday that excessive runoff due to flooding and elevated groundwater levels was causing sewer overflows throughout the central portion of the county.
As a result, swimming bans have been issued for several coastal communities, including South Beach and Virginia Key Beach, until further notice.
“This was a capacity issue of so much rain in such a short period of time,” said Jennifer Messemer of the Miami-Dade Department of Water and Sanitation (WASD).
The county’s wastewater treatment facility is allowed to receive an average of 143 million gallons of wastewater annually and reported continuous flows of more than 310 million gallons of wastewater and stormwater on Saturday.
Messemer says nearly a foot of water resulted in a sewage overflow from the facility.
The county said the untreated water has the potential to mix with flood water and flow into nearby waterways.
“We are working hard to monitor our water quality and keep the public safe while mitigating issues related to the extremely heavy rainfall during this severe weather event,” WASD Director Roy Coley said in a statement.
The Florida Department of Health will collect samples over several days to determine if the water is safe for recreational use.
No-swim advisories are expected to remain in effect until the agency receives two consecutive days of normal readings.
Miami-Dade County is no stranger to securing sewers, and Environment Florida says the area has a history of sewer system failures.
“In 2016, a study of the recent Royal Flood waters pumped into Biscayne Bay found that sewer leaks are common 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 over the course of two years.”
The sewage problems span the entire state and are usually evident during tropical troubles.
During Hurricane Irma in 2017, an estimated 28 million gallons of sewage flowed into waterways, neighborhoods, and areas that shouldn’t be polluted.
Environment Florida said that’s equivalent to every person in the city of Miami flushing their toilet 38 times.
Although this tropical disturbance was not a hurricane or even a tropical storm, the almost a foot of rain was enough to cause major problems
Messemer said the county is working to improve the sewage system so that such problems don’t happen again.
“The county is working on a multi-billion dollar capital improvement program to upgrade and upgrade water and sanitation infrastructure,” said Messemer
Miami-Dade Water and Sewer reached a $1.6 billion federally mandated settlement to improve wastewater collection and treatment over the next few years.
The program will make upgrades to the sanitation system, pumping stations and other vital infrastructure in the hope that scenes of sewer leaks in communities will be a thing of the past.
https://nypost.com/2022/06/05/miami-beaches-closed-after-tropical-disturbance-causes-sewage-to-overflow-in-florida/ Miami’s beaches were closed after a tropical disturbance caused Florida’s sewage to overflow