The following is a response from Broward County to our President regarding the County's response to the sewage spills in Fort Lauderdale:
I will notify Commissioner Ryan of your request. Please keep in mind that the County has no direct involvement with the City of Fort Lauderdale’s water and wastewater infrastructure. And my understanding is as of now the city hasn’t requested any help from the County, be it supplies or people. The only role the County plays is one of oversight, delegated to the County from the state. Specifically, it is our Environmental Protection and Growth Management Division that takes the lead on oversight. Please see below for an update that they sent to me. Feel free to share this with your members. The FDEP referenced is the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
The City of Fort Lauderdale (City) is under a September 2017 Consent Order from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) as a results of the numerous sewer spills in prior years. The 2017 Consent Order was done in collaboration with our agency, and it establishes the regulatory framework for handling current and future sewer spills in the City, including appropriate fine schedules based on specific volumes of sewage discharges. Pursuant to our Specific Operating Agreement (Delegation Agreement) with FDEP, the day following the first sewer break (12/10/2019) we reached out to the FDEP and they confirmed that they would be taking the lead on the compliance and enforcement.
Nevertheless, staff from the Broward County Domestic Wastewater Program has visited the sites of the first three sewer breaks on four different occasions (12/11/2019, 12/12/2019, 12/18/2019, and 12/26/2019) to document the scope and status of the incidents. In the course these visits, we met several City staffs and officials such as Aneisha Daniel, Deputy Director of Public Works, Jorge Holguin, Senior Project Manager, and City Commissioner Ben Sorensen. Mr. Holguin provided us an update about the City’s plan to replace the failing 54-inch force main, and Commissioner Sorenson gave us a tour of the initial sewer by-pass works which were implemented the night of 12/17/2019.
Our staff has also been in constant contact with our compliance liaisons from the FDEP. We have been receiving updates from the City twice daily and we are being copied in all communications between FDEP and the City, including the submittals of the laboratory sample results for bacteria levels. As you may know now, there were two more sewer breaks that occurred late afternoon yesterday. In light of the more recent sewer breaks, our Division is considering further enforcement action in collaboration with FDEP to help in speeding up the replacement of the failing force mains.
Following is a brief summary of the status of the 6 breaks:
- 1030 Ponce De Leon Dr: Currently there are no issues or discharges at this site where the first sewer break occurred on 12/10/2019. The 54-inch force main has been repaired and put back into service.
- 909 SE 10th St (Virginia Young Park/Tarpon River): This sewer break occurred on December 20, 2019. The City completed repairs to the damaged section of the 54-inch force main by replacing it with a new 54-inch pipe section.
- SE 2nd St & SE 9th Ave (Himmarshee Canal): This sewer break occurred on December 21, 2019. The City installed a valve device around the submerged 48-inch pipe in the Himmarshee Canal, and it continues to operate properly. There is no more sewage discharge from this site.
- 1631 NE 5th St, Fort Lauderdale: This sewer break occurred on December 27, 2019. By the time staff contacted the City at 10:11 AM on that day, the sewer discharge had already been stopped. There were no impacts to storm drains or waterways.
- NE 5 Street and NE 16 Avenue in Victoria Park: This sewer break occurred on December 30, 2019. City crews responded to a 16-inch force main break on NE 5 Street in the vicinity of NE 16 Avenue in the Victoria Park neighborhood. This occurred just a few feet west of the previous repair on the same 16-inch force main at Victoria Park (see item 4 above). The flow out of the pipe was stopped and discharge is no longer entering the street. There were no impacts to storm drains or waterways.
- NE 36 Street East of Bayview Drive in Coral Ridge Country Club Estates: This sewer break occurred on December 30, 2019. City crews responded to a 12-inch force main break on NE 36 Street, east of Bayview Drive in Coral Ridge Country Club Estates. The City reported that spill was a small leak; pump stations servicing the force main were shut off so that the damaged area of pipe could be isolated to stop the spill. From the latest updates, repairs are underway, and both recent sewer spills have been contained. A currently undetermined volume of sewer reached the Rio Dorothy Canal.