Repair Leaky Sewage Systems in Miami-Dade, Florida

Target: Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department

Goal: Repair the sewage systems causing countless harmful spills in Florida

According to the EPA, about 240,000 line breaks occur across the country’s sewage systems each year with many of them being over 100 years old. Miami-Dade County, Florida has often been a site of poorly kept systems; in 1996, the county was made to pay a $2 million fine for spills into the Miami River and Biscayne Bay (among others) throughout the 1990s when the system couldn’t properly drain overflows from rainstorms. The county has spent around $2 billion since then upgrading the treatment facility and toilets, as well as repairing 500 pump stations. As of May, water flow had been reduced by 12%–but this has not been enough.

Over 65 leaks have occurred in Miami-Dade in the past two years, with its 7,500 miles of sewage lines spilling over 47 million gallons of waste into neighborhoods in South Florida. Four of these spills sent 19 million gallons of sewage overflowing last year alone. Coconut Grove has gone as far as to issue a moratorium on the installation of any new toilets and sinks. These spills have caused beach closures throughout the county and originally resulted in a $1.1 billion repair bill. However, as of September that bill has increased to about $12 billion. Not only have the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Justice, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection cited the county for violating the Federal Clean Water Act; but now Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper has informed the county of an intent to sue for failing to enforce the act despite repeated urgings to do so.

It is necessary that Miami-Dade’s Water and Sewer Department finally begin making major changes to their systems. Engineers attribute many of the breaks to defective pipes installed by a faulty-company during the 70’s, and even the Water and Sewer Department’s director has described the system as “being held together by chewing gum.” Demand that the department start making repairs immediately, with advised focus on the important Virginia Key line, so that no more sewage is spilled out onto the streets or continues to taint Florida beaches.


Dear Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department,

Despite your department having already spent billions of dollars on Miami-Dade sewage cleanups and repairs over the past several years, the problem persists in a worse state than ever. Over 65 leaks have occurred in Miami-Dade in the past two years, with its 7,500 miles of sewage lines spilling over 47 million gallons of waste into neighborhoods in South Florida. With a moratorium on new sinks and toilets in Coconut Grove, it’s obvious that something needs to be done immediately.

The price on repairs only continues to rise, from $1.1 billion in July to $2 billion in September. If this issue is allowed to continue improperly attended to, costs will only be a portion of the problem with environmental and health hazards at the forefront. The suit now being filed against the county by Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper should be as good an indicator as any that the most basic of repairs need to be made immediately.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: emilio labrador via Flickr

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