211.6 Million Gallons of Sewage Spilled Into Florida Town’s Waterways
By Emma Fiala
According to officials, around 212 million gallons of sewage has spilled into Fort Lauderdale’s waterways over the last few months. That’s enough sewage to fill a shocking 320 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
During December 2019, the south Florida city’s sewer pipes broke six times resulting in the spilling of 126.9 million gallons of sewage. It was one of south Florida’s biggest spills to date. In the end, the Tarpon River, the Himmarshee Canal, and the streets in three different neighborhoods were affected: Rio Vista, Victoria Park, and Coral Ridge.
And then from January 30 until February 8, 79.3 million gallons of additional sewage spilled into George English Lake while 5.4 million gallons flooded city streets.
City officials reportedly stopped the leak three days after it was discovered by installing a bypass line, but later that same day another leak was found.
Fisherman Jeff Maggio hasn’t been to George English since the sewage began spewing from a pipe underwater in late January. He told the Sun Sentinel:
All the fish are dead there. Everything’s just gone. Crabs, oysters, barnacles and plankton. Crews have been out there picking up hundreds of fish out of the water so it doesn’t look like holy hell. Manatees are swimming in that poison.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis plans to seek help from both federal and state agencies. He said:
Considering the extent of this pollution, we should be more than eligible for state and federal assistance. We cannot suffer this burden alone.
Many residents are urging the city to test the water daily and make the results public, but so far officials have yet to agree.
Thanks to a 2017 agreement with the state, the city of Fort Lauderdale may be fined up to $10,000 a day for leaks that spill more than 100,000 gallons of sewage. However, state officials have thus far neglected to fine the city for these recent leaks.
Commissioner Heather Moraitis said:
We’ve had seven sewer breaks so far. We have not received the new price tag yet. That is coming.
It’s been 17 days and we’re still failing [water quality tests] at George English It took half the time to get passing tests down in Rio Vista. We’re not seeing the results we had hoped to see.
City officials plan to meet this week to discuss the lake following the lifting of the last boil order ban thanks to a string of water main breaks happening at the same time as these sewage leaks.