FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Fort Lauderdale city leaders on Tuesday approved spending more than $65 million dollars to make a critically important and — they hope — long term fix to one of the main sewer pipes that broke over a three-week span last month.
Fort Lauderdale City Manager Chris Lagerbloom said he believes the city needs to focus on replacing aging and broken pipes, not preparing and patching existing ones.
“We don’t need to be looking at patch fixing,” he told CBS4 News. “We need to replace the full lengths of pipes and that’s what we’ve started doing. There’s no reason to think the pipe is any different any further up or downstream so we’re met with this type of event and we have to have a bold response.”
The urgent response approved Tuesday involves replacing the pipe that burst in Rio Vista on December 10th.
That pipe will be part of a seven and a half mile stretch of sewer pipe that runs from north of Oakland Park Boulevard to Port Everglades. Lagerbloom called it the main transmission line through the center of the city.
But some residents expressed concern about the cost of the project and whether sewer bills might go up for residents.
“What’s that mean per citizen? That’s the type of conversation every three minutes,” asked one resident.
The city says the money for the replacement line will come from bond money, capital funding and reserves and will not lead to rate hikes.
“We were able to appropriate this funding tonight without any increase in rates,” Lagerbloom said. “It can be done within our current rate structure.”
Other residents decried the impact on the environment, with raw sewage flooding streets and waterways.
“We’ve had like 100 million gallons of raw sewage that are just killing all the fish and everything in the Tarpon River and the New River,” a resident told the Commission. “That’s the real disaster. That’s the loser here.”
But the city maintains that the water quality is back to normal.
“We had all passing tests, and let me take that one step further, and be able to lift all the recreation advisories,” Lagerbloom said.
The breaks have sent nearly 127 million gallons of raw sewage spewing into rivers and on land.
“We’re record setters. We’re going to be in the Guinness book for world records pretty soon over the time frame how much sewage we’re going to put into the intracoastal system,” one resident said.
One member of the public called for the slowing down of development.
“We are requesting that the city hold a conversation and consider pausing Development in order to establish a plan to address aging and failing infrastructure and roads,” a resident identified only as “Mary” said.