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It's Here: After Serious Spills, Fort Lauderdale's Promised Sewage Line Is Complete

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis and City Commissioner Steve Glassman hold up a piece of pipe at a ceremony celebrating the completion of a new sewer line.
City of Fort Lauderdale
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Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis, left, and City Commissioner Steve Glassman, right, show off an example of the new pipe at a ceremony to celebrate the project's completion Thursday.

The city's new main highway for sewage began construction a year and a half ago — now the last part has been turned on. City officials celebrated with a ceremony Thursday.

The domino effect of cascading pipe breaks began right before the holidays in December 2019.

More than 211 million gallons spilled out of pipes installed in the 1970s. Residents remember the smell, and the sewage floating into streets and canals and yards.

Now, two contractors have just spent a year and a half building a new sewer main.

After the city spent $65 million, the new mega-pipe promised to fix the problems is now fully up and running.

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At 7 miles long, the new pipe replaces the old one, made of iron. The new pipe is made of high-density polyethylene that's less vulnerable to corrosion, and the city promises the material is also more resilient against rising groundwater tables and sea rise.

City leaders celebrated the project's completion just a few months shy of the two-year anniversary of the sewage spills, with a ceremony outside Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church. That's where contractors working at both ends of the line met in the middle to finish.

Contractor David Mancini & Sons installed the southern portion of the line from the George T. Lohmeyer Wastewater Treatment Plant to NE 8 Street. The other contractor, Murphy Pipeline, installed the northern portion of the line from NE 8 Street to NE 37 Street.

Earlier this year, WLRN investigated how Fort Lauderdale is not alone in its sewage woes. Eastern, coastal cities are also seeing more pipes break. Sea level rise is only expected to make the problems surrounding aging infrastructure, worse.

FtLauderdaleSEWERPROJECT_mixdown.mp3
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At the ceremony as well as in a Facebook post, city leaders thanked residents in the neighborhoods hit the hardest by the spills and the construction of the new line: Rio Vista, Victoria Park, Harbordale and Coral Ridge. The city leaders thanked them for patience, understanding and support during this time.

The comments on the post, however, were not so celebratory.

"Patting yourself on the back for doing a job that you should have done decades ago is pretty crazy," one person commented. "This is not how things should be..."

Another wrote: "Really celebrating something that was [mishandled] for years and you spin it as an accomplishment shameful."

Fort Lauderdale isn't finished with rehabbing its sewage infrastructure just yet.

Next, the city will re-line the old pipe so it can act as a backup for future maintenance. Or, in case there are future spills.

Murphy Pipeline installs the North Segment.mp4

Video of Murphy Pipeline installing the north segment of the new line, courtesy of the City of Fort Lauderdale.