Fort Lauderdale tackles the mysterious case of the brown New River

Officials say mud from a construction site is the culprit. But which site?

By Ian Margol - Reporter, Tim Swift - Digital Editor

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - After turning a muddy brown a day ago, the water of the New River in Fort Lauderdale seemed to be mostly back to normal Thursday. But many residents are concerned after the brown plume streaked the river for the second time this summer.

City officials aren't entirely sure what the plume is or where it's coming from, but they have a theory.

"So with reasonable certainty we know it's coming from a construction site. It has the consistency of being dirt or mud, we don't have any reason to think anything but that." said Chris Lagerbloom, Fort Lauderdale's assistant city manager.

Lagerbloom said the muddy brown water is being pumped into the river by the city's stormwater drainage system.

"It's intended to keep downtown dry when it rains so it's doing what it's intended to do. There's just material getting into it that routinely wouldn't," Lagerbloom said.

On Wednesday, Lagerbloom was out with city employees trying to pinpoint which construction site the runoff was coming from.

By Thursday, the view from Drone 10 shows that the coloring had cleared from the river, but city staff are still looking for the source to prevent it from happening again.

Nevertheless, Lagerbloom said city officials don't have significant concerns about the discharge being anything more than regular old dirt.

In late July, the city cited DP Development and its construction site near Southeast Second Street and Southeast Fourth Avenue for creating a similar discharge along the New River.

The city stopped work at the site until the developer fixed its storm drains. The river cleared up a few days later.

This week, city inspectors found no issues with the DP Development site.

But city officials did issue warning citations to four construction sites near the New River, because their catch basins were not properly protected or maintained, causing runoff to go directly into the city’s storm water system.

Another site received a warning citation for having no protection on its catch basin.

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