FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A temporary fix was completed on a sewer main spill in Fort Lauderdale’s Rio Vista neighborhood, Fort Lauderdale officials say.
The temporary fix comes after eight days and millions of gallons of raw sewage spewed from a 54-inch hole in a sewer main believed to be from the 1970s.
“The bypass line is functioning properly,” Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said. “The wastewater collection system is back online and sewage is no longer spilling from the pipe or reaching the Tarpon River.”
Crews quickly turned attention to digging a new access area to retrieve the aging equipment and replace it following the successful stoppage of sewage flow around 3 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Officials say all repairs could be finished by Saturday.
In the meantime, environmental and residential cleanup will commence.
Contractors are actively pressure cleaning and disinfecting roads, sidewalks and driveways, officials said.
As for environmental cleanup efforts, officials confirmed that 10 aeration pumps remain in place, while patrol boats are actively skimming and removing debris along Tarpon and New Rivers.
“We’ve observed some fishkill in the river, and we’ve obviously addressed that with the skimming operation we have in place,” Fort Lauderdale City Manager Chris Lagerbloom said.
A precautionary water advisory remains in effect for Tarpon and New Rivers from Broward Boulevard to the north, Poinciana Drive to the east, Southeast 15th Street to the south and Southwest 18th Avenue to the west.
As for the looming challenge of improving Fort Lauderdale’s aging water infrastructure throughout the city, Fort Lauderdale Public Works Director Paul Berg emphasized the need for a comprehensive improvement plan.
“We have a very aggressive capital improvement plan in place,” Berg said, noting the plan calls for a five-year, $600 million cost to replace pipes in key areas, some of which are 60 years or older.
The total economic impact for this 54-inch hole, however, is still being determined.
Residents of the affected areas that wish to make claims with the city can call 954-828-5177.