On this Tuesday, Jan. 7, episode of Sundial:

Puerto Rico Earthquakes

Puerto Rico's governor, Wanda Vázquez, has declared a state of emergency after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck the island early this morning. The earthquake was followed by an aftershock measuring 6.0. 

Susan Stocker / South Florida Sun Sentinel

The staggering number of sewer main breaks that hit Fort Lauderdale in December turned into one of South Florida’s biggest sewage spills ever: 126.9 million gallons.

That’s a mind-numbing amount of human waste, enough to fill 192 Olympic-sized pools. Some of it wound up in streets, parks and lawns, but the bulk of it wound up in the Tarpon River, where it was pumped to keep sewage from seeping into homes.

Fort Lauderdale Sewage
Caitie Switalski / WLRN

Fort Lauderdale residents are gearing up to demonstrate on land and water next weekend, to call on city leaders to take action to fix unreliable sewage infrastructure. 

MIKE STOCKER / South Florida Sun Sentinel

The toxic stew that’s been bubbling up on the thoroughfares of Fort Lauderdale is more than just a noxious, stinking mess.

It can kill you. Chances are it won’t, but the bacteria, parasites and viruses stirring in that toxic stew can still make you very sick, experts warn.

Hundreds of residents have been forced to watch their step as toxic sludge seeped from six sewer main breaks in Fort Lauderdale neighborhoods from Rio Vista to Victoria Park and Coral Ridge.

This Time It’s Two: More Sewer Pipes Break In Fort Lauderdale

Dec 31, 2019
(Jennifer Lett / South Florida Sun Sentinel

Fort Lauderdale residents just can’t catch a break with their sewage woes, with two more pipes breaking in the city Monday.

That makes six pipes that have ruptured in the city in December.

The recent rash of sewer breaks is going to force the city to move faster on fixing its aging water and sewer pipes, said Commissioner Heather Moraitis, who represents the Coral Ridge area. “We just need to double up our efforts, if not triple up our efforts — if that’s possible,” Moraitis said.

AMY BETH BENNETT / South Florida Sun Sentinel

There’s been another sewer main break in Fort Lauderdale - this one in the 1600 block of Northeast Fifth Street in Victoria Park.

City spokesman Chaz Adams said the break happened at about 7:30 a.m. Friday. He said crews are on site to coordinate the emergency repair.

They warned people in the area to avoid standing water and are asking motorists to seek an alternative route.

Susan Stocker / South Florida Sun Sentinel

Residents of the Rio Vista neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale woke up Wednesday to a much-anticipated holiday gift: The leak that has been pouring thousands of gallons of sewage every minute into the Tarpon River for more than two weeks has stopped.

City officials said that “during the overnight hours, crews were able to successfully activate a 36-inch bypass line. Sewage flow is now being diverted around the damaged section of the 54-inch pipe and is fully contained in the system.”

Caitie Switalski / WLRN

It's taken the city of Fort Lauderdale more than a week to stop a sewage leak after a sewer main broke in the Rio Vista neighborhood. 

A bypass was opened after 3 a.m. Wednesday and is now diverting the sewage away from dumping into the Tarpon River. Now, the city is now working to replace the broken section of pipe.


Wilfredo Lee/AP

Dirty beaches in the wake of record-setting king tides across South Florida this week should come as no surprise, scientists say.

“No, there’s not any coincidence,” said Florida International University geochemist and water quality expert Henry Briceno.

Just days after record-setting tides, Florida Department of Health officials issued warnings Thursday about unsafe levels of bacteria at four Miami-Dade County beaches: Crandon Park’s North Beach, Virginia Key, Cape Florida and Surfside at 93rd Street. They told swimmers to stay out of the water.


Before heading to the beach, you might want to check if it’s safe to swim at your chosen spot.

Elevated poop levels have led to Florida Department of Health swimming advisories for a total of eight beaches in Miami-Dade. Other beaches across the state — including six in Okaloosa County — were also put on warning Wednesday.

The advisories for Miami-Dade issued Wednesday were for: Surfside, 93rd Street; North Shore, 73rd Street; Collins Park, 21st Street; South Beach at Collins Avenue; South Beach at South Pointe Drive; and Virginia Beach.

Miami Herald archives

It’s been a tough summer for South Florida beaches, which have faced hot weather, seaweed and high bacteria levels.

Miami-Dade County

Over the weekend, a crack surfaced in a 55-year-old underground sewer pipe in Miami's Oleta River.

The small crack is less than two square inches in diameter and has so far spewed about a half million gallons of raw sewage. But the flow will continue as workers race to install a bypass pipe on the aging line - work they expect to complete by Thursday night.

While less severe than originally suspected when a kayacker discovered the leak Sunday, the spill is drawing attention to a worsening problem across Miami-Dade County: polluted waterways.


A sewage spill that began Sunday afternoon by Oleta River might not be stopped until Friday as Miami-Dade launches a 24-hour underwater repair operation on a pipe that the county had planned to replace within two years.

The leak of raw human waste comes from a 48-inch pipe that runs 12 feet under the Oleta in the middle of the state park that carries the river’s name. It carries sewage from the Sunny Isles Beach area to the North District Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Miami Dade Water and Sewer Department

Plans to end a decades-old practice of flushing treated sewage offshore in Miami-Dade County got an assist from the federal government Friday with the award of a nearly $100 million low-interest loan.

Getty Images / Miami Herald

Busted and clogged pipes cost the Miami-Dade County sewage system $600,000 last year, and one of the main culprits was grease.

That's why Miami-Dade Water and Sewer is asking residents to properly dispose of their cooking waste this holiday season.

Jennifer Messemer-Skold, the county agency's spokesperson, likened a pipe clogged with grease to an unhealthy heart.

"If you have a very high fat-content diet, your arteries start to clog up," she said.