FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 5, 2014
FEDERAL JUDGE GRANTS $1.6 BILLION CONSENT DECREE FOR WATER QUALITY IMPROVEMENTS IN MIAMI-DADE
TALLAHASSEE – A Miami federal judge recently granted the Florida
Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and
Miami-Dade County’s motion to enter into a consent decree, which
calls for Miami-Dade County to invest $1.6 billion in major upgrades to its
wastewater treatment plants and wastewater collection and transmission systems.
This investment will help eliminate sanitary sewer overflows.
Under the terms of the consent decree, Miami-Dade will
rehabilitate its wastewater treatment plants and its wastewater collection and
transmission system within 15 years. The county will also develop and implement
management operation and maintenance programs to help ensure the sewer system
is properly operated and maintained in the future. By implementing these
measures, Miami-Dade is expected to eliminate sanitary sewer overflows from its
wastewater collection and transmission system and achieve compliance with its
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits, issued by the
“Miami-Dade County is home to America’s Everglades, two
aquatic preserves, as well as three of Florida’s award-winning state parks,”
said Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Herschel T.
Vinyard Jr. “The improvements to infrastructure in this agreement will bring lasting
environmental and recreational benefits to the residents and visitors of the
Between January 2007 and May 2013, Miami-Dade reported
211 sanitary sewer overflows totaling more than 51 million gallons. The overflows included a number of large volume overflows from ruptured force
mains. At least 84 overflows, totaling over 29 million gallons of raw sewage,
reached navigable waters of the United States. Miami-Dade’s Central District
wastewater treatment plant also had several violations of the effluent limits
contained in its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. EPA also documented numerous operation and
maintenance violations at this same wastewater treatment plant during inspections in September 2011,
April 2012 and April 2013.
Miami-Dade estimates it will spend approximately $1.6
billion to complete the upgrades required by the consent decree and come into
compliance with the Clean Water Act. Under the settlement, Miami-Dade will also
pay a civil penalty of nearly $1 million, with $466,300 allocated to the
department. The county is also subject to stipulated penalties for delays in
project completion or future sanitary sewer overflows. Further, Miami-Dade must
complete a supplemental environmental project valued at $2,047,200.
Miami-Dade’s supplemental environmental project involves
the installation of approximately 7,660 linear feet of gravity sewer mains
through the Green Technology Corridor, an area that is currently using septic
tanks. Businesses in the area have been unable to connect to the sewer system
because of a lack of sewer lines. Disconnecting industrial users from septic
tanks will improve water quality in the Biscayne aquifer and nearby surface
waters and prevent future contamination.