Environmentalists deeply concerned about yet another runoff into South Florida waterways

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – As you walk or run over the IntraCoastal on the last Las Olas Boulevard bridge, you’ll likely hear the sounds and you can’t miss the construction site just north of the Fort Lauderdale city parking garage.

It’s the future site of the Las Olas Marina in Fort Lauderdale, a 70-million project that will include a 31,000-square-foot building with an upscale waterfront restaurant, offices, a gym and swimming pool.

City officials say the project will have a $221 million economic impact.

“Yesterday we started seeing pictures of a massive runoff event,” said Mike Lambrechts, president of the Coastal Conservation Association of Florida.

While work was underway at the site, construction crews damaged a water pipe, city officials announced on their Facebook page.

The City’s Public Works Department shut off water flow to the damaged pipe and is coordinating with Suntex Marinas to make necessary repairs, the announcement said.

On Friday, a day later, a spokesperson told Local 10 the city was investigating that long-term, the spill could have on the environment. Suntex, the contractor, is working with local governments to figure out the impact.

“Whether it’s sewage or it’s runoff or any other type of foreign matter that gets in our waters, it’s devastating for the ecology,” Lambrechts said. “You’re likely going to be looking at trace heavy metals, you’re likely going to be looking at oils…it kills off our natural oyster growth; it affects the life of fish and other organisms.”

Lambrechts mentioned the impact such spills may also have on yachts, being the Fort Lauderdale prides itself in being the “Yachting Capital of the World.”

“A lot of people don’t think about that silt does when it makes its way into the raw water and air conditioning system of a large yacht,” Lambrechts said.

He reminds us people visit and live in Fort Lauderdale and South Florida because of its environmental beauty like the beaches and other waterways.

People like, John Thompson, worry these kinds of environmental mishaps may ruin the appeal.

“There’s been constant silt and they try to contain it with the silt fence but it doesn’t work,” said Thompson, who runs often on the bridge and lives nearby.

About the Author:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.