Wading in a Winter Wastewater-land

Some soggy holidays in Florida and Washington State


Infrastructure concerns became more than theoretical in two far-apart communities during the pre-Christmas shopping season.  In Fort Lauderdale, four major sewer main breaks in the Rio Vista and Victoria Park areas resulted in hundreds of millions of gallons of wastewater being discharged into the streets.   Concerns covered the gamut — health,  environment, safety, disruptions and inconveniences, and the long term worry that if the sewage system couldn’t handle current conditions, what lies ahead as the area continues to invite new construction and development? And as reported by Channel 7 news, Miami, damage reports were difficult to imagine:

…Area resident Roma Lambert said the smell made her ill. “When he had the pipe out of the manhole, and the steam was coming out of it that week, literally, it did stink all over the neighborhood, and it made me sick at my stomach,” she said….

…Workers were seen walking through ankle-deep water and power-cleaning the sidewalks.

…The Himmarshee Canal leak required divers to go underwater to fix it.

…Friday’s pipe burst took place underneath a Toyota sedan, causing the vehicle to partly sink. The car had to be towed before crews could begin digging and make repairs.

The problem appears to be the result of old pipes, which began to crack.

And, in Ballard, Washington, an electrical outage occurred the Sunday before Christmas when a limit switch failed to recognize whether gates were fully open or closed.  As reported by Mike Lindblom in the Seattle Times, a series of other events contributed to additional chaos:

  • A three inch rainfall stored up shoreline debris, causing another lock to jam
  • “Steel drawspan leaves on the four-lane Ballard Bridge, also 102 years old, failed to descend all the way, interrupting car and truck traffic for more than four hours.”
  • And several people fell into the water, and had to be pulled out.

The Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for the care and upkeep of the locks, including both scheduled and emergency maintenance.

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