Sewage has been spilling into Fort Lauderdale’s streets, neighborhoods and waterways for more than three years now. Millions of gallons of waste on the roads and in canals are the product of old sewage pipes and cracked infrastructure.
But at a regular City Commission meeting Tuesday, commissioners agreed to borrow $200 million to start updating the areas with the worst pipes.
The vote was 4-1, and it was commissioner, and mayoral candidate, Dean Trantalis who voted not to borrow the money.
Customers’ utility payments will be used to repay the bond.
The city’s sewage problems have become frequent enough for the state to get involved. Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection gave Fort Lauderdale a consent order to plan for the repairs and begin fixing the infrastructure within a few years.
One attempt from 2017 that was successful in fixing one problematic pipe is the Go Big, Go Fast campaign by the city’s Public Works Department. A large 30-inch force main sewage line that runs underneath Southwest Second Street was replaced after the city had pumped waste from one manhole to another.
The second phase of that project, pressure-testing the new pipe, began in late December 2017 and the entire Go Big, Go Fast project is expected to be completed this spring. The city's latest report on the project announced the start of seven new infrastructure projects after the start of the new year.