Enough toxic sewage to fill 320 Olympic-sized swimming pools has spilled into Fort Lauderdale's waterways and streets over the past few months after the city's aging sewer pipes began splitting in December, and the city's mayor is calling for help from the state and the federal government.
"Considering the extent of this pollution, we should be more than eligible for state and federal assistance," Mayor Dean Trantalis told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. "We cannot suffer this burden alone."
When the pipes broke six times in December, 126.9 million gallons of sewage spewed out into the Tarpon River, the Himmarshee Canal, and streets in three neighborhoods, marking one South Florida's largest spills.
But the damages did not end there. An additional 79.3 million gallons spilled into George English Lake over a 10-day period beginning Jan. 30 and ending Feb. 8, when a separate old sewer pipe broke under the Middle River. In addition, 5.4 million gallons flooded the streets near George English Park, located across from a popular mall.
State officials in 2017 intervened after Fort Lauderdale suffered a series of sewer pipe breaks, and under an agreement reached then, the city can be fined up to $10,000 a day for spills of more than 100,000 gallons, but no fines have been levied yet.
Fort Lauderdale fisherman Jeff Maggio told the newspaper he has not been to George English Park since the Jan. 30 leak started, and now, "all the fish are dead there. Everything's just gone. Crabs, oysters, barnacles, and plankton. Crews have been out there picking up hundreds of fish out of the water, so it doesn't look like holy hell. Manatees are swimming in that poison."
The city has also suffered a string of water main leaks in recent weeks, forcing the city to issue boil orders. The final order was lifted Sunday.
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