WASD: $12B needed for water main repairs

Residents may see water bills increase


MIAMI – The director of of the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department says he needs $12 billion to get the county through the next 15 years of repairs.

"Infrastructure is falling apart," said John Renfrow, Director of the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department.

There are 13,000 miles of mostly old pipes buried beneath the county, getting rattled by the roadways, corroded by salt water, and beaten down by the sun. The years of wear and tear are becoming more apparent every time a sewer or water pipe bursts.

"They're probably 50, 60-years-old," said Renfrow.

Renfrow said the plants that operate the system are in no better shape. One plant in Virginia Key was built in 1956.

"We have to replace pumps. We have to replace parts out there which we haven't been able to do at the rate that it's supposed to have been done," said Renfrow.

Renfrow spoke to county commissioners on Tuesday and told them his department needs $3 billion to get through five years worth of repairs and $12 billion to get the county through the next 15 years.

"Unfortunately, it's not going to be cheap," said Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

Gimenez said developers will have to pay as they build. He hopes the federal government will step in to help, but also said the county will most likely increase water bills.

"Our costs are going to increase a little bit but some things we have to do. We cannot go without water," said Gimenez.