Politics

Miami-Dade Agrees to $1.6 Billion Fix to Its Wastewater Treatment Infrastructure

By: Sunshine State News | Posted: June 6, 2013 5:30 PM
Miami-Dade Wastewater Plant

Miami-Dade Wastewater Treatment Plant | Credit: hazenandsawyer.com

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that Miami-Dade County has agreed to invest $1.6 billion in major upgrades to its wastewater treatment plants and wastewater collection and transmission systems in order to eliminate sanitary sewer overflows.

The agreement came under a settlement with the federal Department of Justice and the federal EPA. The state of Florida and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection are co-plaintiffs with the federal government in this action.

Miami-Dade estimates it will spend approximately $1.6 billion to complete the upgrades required by the consent decree and come into compliance with the Clean Water Act. Under the settlement, Miami-Dade will also pay a civil penalty of $978,100 ($511,800 to be paid to the United States and $466,300 to FDEP) and complete a supplemental environmental project costing $2,047,200.

Last July the county admitted corrosion is so pervasive in Miami-Dade’s water and sewage-treatment plants, and pipes that move water and sewage, that initial repairs could take from three to eight years, a five-month study found.

Each day 300 million gallons of waste and 459 million gallons of drinking water pass through the county’s system -- the 10th largest water-and-sewer utility in the nation.

John Renfrow, director of the water and sewer department, said in July, “The infrastructure we have out there is aged. Many of the pipes with leaks out there were built at the same time. It reminds me of an apartment where all the lights are put in at the same time, and you know how all the lights go out at the same time.”

Under the terms of the consent decree, Miami-Dade will complete the rehabilitation within 15 years. The county will also develop and put into practice programs for management operation and maintenance. By implementing these measures, Miami-Dade should achieve compliance with its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, according to the EPA.

“Sewage overflows are a significant problem in the Southeast because of inadequate and aging infrastructure,” said Stan Meiburg, acting regional administrator of EPA’s Southeastern office. “This agreement demonstrates the county’s commitment to address its sewage problems. Eliminating overflows of raw sewage will comply with the Clean Water Act and benefit the Miami-Dade community by providing a cleaner and healthier environment.”


“Miami-Dade County is one of the world’s premier resort destinations and is home to America’s Everglades, two aquatic preserves as well as Bill Baggs Cape Florida, Oleta River and The Barnacle Historic state parks,” said Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. “This agreement will bring lasting environmental and recreational benefits to the citizens and visitors of Miami-Dade County by reducing the threats posed by untreated sewage overflows that degrade water quality and contribute to beach closures,”

Between January 2007 and May 2013, Miami-Dade reported 211 sanitary sewer overflows totaling more than 51 million gallons. Such overflows included a number of large-volume overflows from ruptured force mains. At least 84 overflows, totaling over 29 million gallons of raw sewage, reached navigable waters of the United States. Miami-Dade’s Central District wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) also experienced several violations of the effluent limits contained in its NPDES permit.


Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423.


Comments (2)

Frank
6:04PM JUN 7TH 2013
Yes, what once again fails to fully address the issues involved, including Renfrow's further indication that "Miami-Dade needs at least $11 billion more in other improvements" . . . . .

Miami-Dade, like Broward County, has longed delayed resolving its wastewater outfall issues and long delayed the needed implementation of reuse . . . . conservation (which they are doing) and retrofitting are both much less expensive than developing new water supply sources (i.e. further expansion of the Biscayne aquifer is out) . . . . couple that, with the increasing realization of the exposure of their infrastructure to increasing sea level impacts that have already affected coastal wellfields, and that will impact lift stations and other infrastructure in the near future (infrastructure-wise), and you have major fiscal problems which the county actively needs to address . . . .

Miami-Dade has the greatest infrastructure in Florida at risk (and one of the greatest in the world, financially-wise), but expect to see this issue increasingly happen throughout the state . . . . . at least (unlike the denial Governor and the head-in-the-sand Legislature), the county (along with the other coastal counties north and south of it) have realized the risk and are now actively working together and attempting to study and engage in both short term and long term adaptive and resiliency planning as part of the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact to deal with the resulting impacts of sea-level rise over the next century . . . . .

As for DEP, the Governor and the Legislature efforts in this area . . . .

Pathetic . . .
LDouglas
6:53AM JUN 7TH 2013
The good news is with Miami-Dade pledging $1.6 billion towards those repairs they've been neglecting for too long, now we're down to needing just under $15 billion more for the rest of the state.

The bad news is, if more counties/cities step up to the plate they set, those darn environmentalists just might get to have their cake and eat it too. Lol

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