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Second sewer line break repairs to take at least 24 hours, officials say

Raw sewage dumping into Tarpon River; smell, wastewater threatens homes

Same line, different day as residents in Fort Lauderdale's Rio Vista deal with another sewer line spill
Same line, different day as residents in Fort Lauderdale's Rio Vista deal with another sewer line spill

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – It will be at least another 24 hours until a temporary fix is in place to stop a sewer line from dumping raw sewage into streets and the Tarpon River in Fort Lauderdale, officials say.

This latest break, located near Virginia Young Park on Southeast Ninth Avenue in the Rio Vista neighborhood, started just a day after the same line was repaired blocks away.

“This is the same sewer pipe that had a break last week,” Commissioner Ben Sorensen confirmed in a Facebook post. “This break is in a new location. The previous break has been fixed. This is a 50-year-old pipe that has needed to be replaced.

Officials believe that as crews pressurized the sewer line after the temporary fix was in place, it blew the line in a new location and raw sewage began to spew into streets and waterways.

Ft. Lauderdale Fire Rescue’s high water response team was spotted going house to house to help people evacuate their homes with the water quality and depths making parts impassable.

Water entered garages of several homes but no water was reported to have entered through anyone’s homes, officials said.

Approximately $31 million was already earmarked to completely repair the pipe believed to be from the 1970s following last week’s sewer main break that dumped millions of gallons over the course of eight days, officials said.

A sewer line located near Ponce de Leon Drive and Southeast 11th Street recently saw repair efforts stop a spill. Blocks away the same line ruptured near Virginia Young Park on Southeast Ninth Avenue.

“It’s unacceptable,” City Commissioner Ben Sorensen said. “Our city has not invested in our infrastructure as it should have for years and years and years.”

Instead of beginning work on a would-be permanent fix, crews mobilized a similar response deployed to alleviate the issues and impacts.

Those response efforts include up to 10 aeration stations along the Tarpon and New Rivers, in addition to a precautionary swim advisory; as well as pump trucks to haul away street wastewater.

As for a long term fix, city officials are hoping to push through an aggressive capital improvement plan that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars over five years.

“Our concern is about what other future breaks could occur,” Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said. “It’s a very thin pipe and has been corroded over time.”

About the Authors:

Jeff Weinsier joined Local 10 News in September 1994. He is currently an investigative reporter for Local 10. He is also responsible for the very popular Dirty Dining segments.