Thursday, May 03, 2012

Are Miami-Dade County Sewer Lines Ready to Burst? The Feds Think So. By Geniusofdespair

Outfall pipe off Hollywood Beach. The sewer lines would have MUCH WORSE stuff coming out. This photo is of partially treated waste.

In 2008 I reported that there was over $5.5 Billion dollars of unfunded infrastructure at the Water & Sewer Department. I asked in my blog: Does anyone give a crap? Apparently no one in Miami Dade County has given a crap in the past 4 years but now the Environmental Protection Agency is concerned. According to the Miami Herald the EPA is demanding that the County repair sewer pipes that EPA fears will rupture and pollute our fragile Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve.

My question would be, why would the Fed's care more than our own County? The County Commission cares more about pit bulls, trashing DERM and Secure Wrap contracts than about their biggest economic engine: Biscayne Bay. It is not like they don't know. The Herald says, "Miami-Dade has suffered at least three major sewer pipe breaks the past three years, and a recent internal report shows that three sections of 54-inch pipe under the bay, leading to the Virginia Key water treatment plant, are so brittle they could rupture at any time." And, if they read my blog they would have known in 2008 about the $5.5 billion of unfunded infrastructure at Water & Sewer and they could have been addressing the short-fall all these years.

Also check out 2 columns in the Miami Herald today:

Daniel Shoer Roth's Beware of the Amnesia  Epidemic in County Government. Shoer Roth says:

"The scandalous revelation of the stockpiled cars reflects the root of the county’s decadence: our local government’s evasion of accountability and gross fiscal mismanagement. It also serves to illustrate the shortsightedness of commissioners and administrators, who missed the opportunity to save for a rainy day during the period of economic growth from the real estate bonanza. On the contrary, they squandered funds on monumental works and, in this case, a fleet of unneeded vehicles that they forgot about."

Joy Reid's Column The Gospel of Selfishness where she rags on Paul Ryan and other members of Congress:

"It’s unpleasant enough to watch congenitally wealthy members of Congress beat the drum on behalf of their own social class, carrying the banner of “austerity for thee, largesse for me.” Worse, though, is the attempt by the Ryans of the world to lard their quest to kick down every 20th century pillar of class mobility with the sweetening agents of pious religiosity."

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes. The answer is Yes, the sewer lines are ready to burst, as they already have been bursting, leaking and contaminating Biscayne Bay, Miami River, and beaches.

Anonymous said...

IF the County doesn't care, maybe Fisher Island real estate moguls will! Or Miami Beach hoteliers! Or the Chamber of Commerce! The Herald story is not the whole story. The entire length of the sewer pipe running under Biscayne Bay is defective. The most defective parts are found in the pipe that runs from Fisher Island to Virginia Key, not the one that's in the way of the Port of Miami Deep Dredge project. Yet, Miami Dade County only funded and has plans to replace the pipe parts in the way of the Port project.
Won't that be a surprise to Fisher Island residents and South Beach snowbirds when their beaches are sullied by raw sewage?

Anonymous said...

Look at WASD' s Executive Offices located in the 5th floor of their Douglas building: bloated salaries + executive benefits + car allowances coupled with the entire "team" lunching together for 2 1/2 hours every day. Check into the "romantic liaisons" among them, the parties, the trips, and you will see that they simply have no need to worry about bursting pipes.

They were all hand picked and put there by Natasha herself and did only her bidding. They have been rudderless since her recall.

The director will retire soon as will most of his "team". One of the two Deputy directors is already retired and cashing in on his hefty FRS and double-dipping by earning a hefty $230K.

Anonymous said...

Disgusting. The county commissioners should be hog tied to that sewer outfall.

Anonymous said...

This merits a Grand Jury investigation and an Inspector General investigation in Miami Dade County. How do you get that started?

Anonymous said...

The Budget Message from the Strong Mayor on March 30th made it real clear: no tax increases and no fee increases in this election year budget. Mayor Gimenez is proposing the exact same budget for next year as this year - regardless of the changing needs in the community.

Instead of explaining the seriousness of the situation and approving incremental rate increases, the politicians are hiding from Norman Braman and avoiding their responsibilities as elected officials.

Someone should ask Norman if it is OK to fund the needs of this community to protect the environment. Until he speaks, expect no action from County Hall.

Cato II said...

Expect the feds to come down hard on the County. There may be no choice but to increase taxes to cover the cost of replacing or relining thousands of miles of aging sewer conduits. Hold onto your wallets.

E said...

Meanwhile, Mayor Gimenez keeps these incompetent political hacks on his payroll rather than advertising the positions and finding the best qualified people.

Anonymous said...

Why should taxpayers pay for this through higher fees or taxes when the County has misplaced its priorities and misspent so much on nonessentials or outright boondoggles, like the Port of Miami expansion projects, tunnel and dredge included. Let them get their house in order and issue bonds for essential services and needed infrastructure improvements.

Anonymous said...

The Water and Sewer Department doesnt need a rate increase. They need competent management. They have more than enough money. Remember the cell phone scandal? Remember the $1 million embezzled for postage?

Water and Sewer is swimming is money as they have us swim in human excrement.

Anonymous said...

Maybe this is why Miami Dade County was so eager to shut down the Port of Miami Deep Dredge environmental lawsuit! Did the County lawyers who worked so hard to "speed up" the lawsuit settlement know the Feds were coming down on the County this week?

Anonymous said...

Joy Ann Reid has a way with words. The paragraph you selected was brilliantly written.

Anonymous said...

It is these sorts of high ticket items that should have been funded during the boom years. Instead, taxpayers funded some really silly shit (pun intended).

Anonymous said...

Agree that rate increases are not needed. Check out the top-heavy management, the salaries, the perks, the duplication of job descriptions (4 directors/chiefs/managers doing the same thing). Above all the mismanagement and the waste. The administration is just milking it until the last paycheck possible - and then they will resign en masse, each taking hundreds of thousands of dollars with them because remember - none of these people have ever taken a sick day in the last 30 years.

Anonymous said...

What a shitty situation...

Anonymous said...

So here's how a County gets in this shituation:

This is all hypothetical mind you.

A Water and Sewer Department creates a large surplus of funds, and puts it in to a Reserve Account (let's say the amount is $400 - $500 million) for just this purpose, with a plan to fix the infrastructure.

But then something happens, like 9/11 and tourism drops and the County's normal revenues fall, so the say: "hey, instead of raising taxes, let's BORROW from the water department's reserve fund, and we'll pay them back when we're flush again.

The water department objects, but to no avail, the County takes $300 millionish in one swoop.

Over the next 10 years, the County continues to cover their monetary holes with smaller chunks from the Water Department Reserve in order to not have to raise taxes (especially through the most recent down-turn) and still calls it a loan. But none of the LOAN ever gets paid back.

Then, when finally the crap hits the fan (literally) and pipes start breaking everywhere, the Water Department says "we have no money and need to raise rates to pay for fixing the system", the County responds, "are you crazy? we can't ask our resident to pay higher water bills in a time like this".

There is a history of raiding the Water Department's reserves to cover Countywide deficits and never paying them back.

Anonymous said...

They are all dogs. Funny to hear about Burgess complaining about the Herald editorial. He still thinks we are all fools.

Anonymous said...

How many political hacks in the water and sewer departnet have "government affairs" or intergovernmental relations" in their titles? As long as all of those political hacks are still there, I will know that the Water and Sewer department takes too much of my money.

Diggy said...

Where did you see disgraced moron George Burgess' comment on a Herald editorial? I would love to see that idiot's comment. I need a good laugh.

Anonymous said...

In reference to the comment above about "intergovernmental affairs", wonder if the public knows that the department has its own lobbyist. How ridiculous is that?

Anonymous said...

Are voters just plain brain dead? Or too much mercury.

Anonymous said...

Voters don't count because they do not care, welcome to the crappy new world

Anonymous said...

The comments about raiding the WASA funds 100% accurate. Can't wait for that audit. Lots of folks have a lot of explaining to do. Lucky for them most are long gone.

Cato II said...

At this point its going to cost hundreds of millions of dollars to replace or reline sewer pipes. Since we don't pay the department director $100 million dollars, the monies going to have to come from somewhere. The reserves WERE raped...er, raided...but you can't tell a burst pipe, "We'd love to fix you, but we're too busy bickering." The money has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere will be you and me.

Anonymous said...

If a Water and Sewer Department creates a large surplus of funds, and puts it in to a Reserve Account (let's say the amount is $400 - $500 million), I would say, "Why the HELL are you creating a large reserve account when pipes need be replaced!"

The incompetence of county officials is staggering!

Denny Wood said...

What do these readers expect? For the last 20 years the Commission and Mayor raided the Water and Sewer monies collected to balance the budget. This is an annual event. And each time the sewers did not get replaced.

The readers need to demand the full costs that need to be implemented to begin the sewer line replacements and the stopping of dumping 360,000,000 million gallons of dirty water in the ocean.

It needs to come up at mayor and commissioner forums. I will make the issue come up at the mayor forums as the Elections Department will have my check and papers on May 8.

And I assure you, that I am the candidate who represents the 99%.

And I promise that it is going to start costing more for water and sewer repairs. You can thank these worthless commissioners and highly paid bureaucrats for letting the sewers go unrepaired, for over 20 years, and raided the Water and Sewer money annually at budget balancing time. www.dennywood.net

RE-ELECT NO ONE! We have created too many millionaire elected officials and bureaucrats.

Denny Wood said...

Procurements are being held up until after the election of the mayor. The sewer and dirty water dumping are off the radar screen until after the election.

The fundraisers of county vendors are booming and the word is if you do not contribute, do not bid.

I plan to draft a County Charter amendment barring future shakedowns of county vendors, lobbyists and county employees.

South Miami has such an ordinance, and I will review that ordinance this week.

denny wood said...

At the May 31 Mayor Forum Michael Putney revised my question, deleting the proposed 6 billion dollar bond issue for 2015. He did put the question to Martinez and the mayor who blew of the issue.

As a mayor candidate, I need some help to keep this bond issue question very much alive. My intent was to hammer it at every mayor forum.

Election cycles is the best time to strike. These elected officials, water and sewer money pot raiders need to be held accountable for all their years of raiding the water and sewer money pot, to balance the budget. 3000 county employees making in excess of $100,000 is nuts. Each of these positions must be evaluated, possibly deleted, and others brought into reasonable pay that we can afford to run county government. Water and Sewer money pot raids must never happen againl.

Anonymous said...

I think county officials who ignored this sewer problem and anyone who contributed to ocean outfalls off of florida which release toxic chemicals into the ocean only one mile off the beach my kids swim and fish in should be put in jail for polluting the ocean and killing coral reefs which were here long before any human. I read that the feds are filing a law suit against florida countys for breaking the clean water act and im happy because i hope they put the people responsible for ignoring the sewer problems in miami dade county and other county's in jail because to many times have sewage been dumped into the biscayne bay and it could have been avoided if they would have put money into replacing the sewer system instead of giving large salaries to these horrible greedy people who only care about themselves instead of caring for miami and nature in general i think anyone who thinks sewage ocean outfalls are ok should be forced to drink that nasty toxic water coming out of those pipes so they can see how horrible it is to our oceans its beyond crazy to know a state that prides it self in beautiful beaches and fishing and saltwater recreation in general would allow this nasty toxic sewer waste be dumped a mile from our beautiful beaches i cant express my anger for these stupid law makers and big decision makers in our state i hope they get what they deserve i love florida and miami to much to see it be destroyed by these evil politicians who dont know whats good for our state.