Miami Dade County Community Forum

Monday, June 21, 2010

Why Didn't They Do a Better Job Notifying People?

An excerpt from the Miami Herald:

"After 20 million gallons of sewage gushed into Biscayne Bay, a public advisory continues Monday. But Sunday, unaware swimmers still hit some of the bay's beaches.

A warning about possible sewage contamination in Biscayne Bay continued Sunday and was extended to Monday -- but that didn't keep people out of the water over the weekend.

The cause of the precautionary public advisory was a break in a 72-inch sewer line at Northwest 18th Avenue and 157th Street. It burst about 7 p.m. Friday and spilled for 12 hours, sending about 20 million gallons of sewage into the Biscayne Canal before it was stopped, the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department said.
Crews stopped the leak by shutting off the valve and rerouting the flow, Water and Sewer spokeswoman Adriana Lamar said Sunday.

On Saturday, health officials issued an advisory and asked people to avoid swimming and recreational activities in bay areas from Oleta River State Park, near the rupture point, south to the Julia Tuttle Causeway, including Bal Harbour Beach and Haulover Park.

Health officials will determine whether to extend the no-swim advisory Monday after reviewing new water-quality test results.
Despite the advisory, swimmers frolicked and kayakers paddled Sunday at Oleta River State Park.

A white warning sign about the advisory, about the size of a sheet of paper, was posted on a board beside the front gate.
Beyond that, there were few clues about the possible sewage in the water. Families visited with beach towels and barbecue fixings. About 3 p.m., two flags flew at the beach: a yellow flag indicating a need to exercise caution and a purple flag to warn of dangerous marine animals. A red flag with a line crossing out a swimmer would indicate the water was unsafe to enter, but such a flag was not flying.

It looked like a typical summer day at the Oleta park's beach."

The cause of the sewer break is still under investigation, and no more notification of the tainted water has been made.

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