Saturday, May 11, 2013

Miami Dade's Benghazi: On Sewer Rate Hike, No Political Courage Anywhere In Sight ... by gimleteye

It's our own mini-version of Benghazi; someone needs to ask questions, why were water rates kept so low that now taxpayers are required to fund billions of dollars of infrastructure improvements? Miami-Dade taxpayers have some of the lowest water rates in the nation, at the expense of Biscayne Bay, the Everglades, and natural resources. When infrastructure fails to keep up with the pace of growth, taxpayers are stuck with the bill. In the meantime, quality of life suffers by degrees. As generations pass, who remembers what was lost?

Our local dodgers and weavers won't answer that question. Here is one they could: why were billions of dollars of funding sources diverted to a performing arts center, to a museum, to a tunnel and an airport, to a baseball stadium, while more billions of infrastructure deficits were hidden in plain view?

Someone on the county commission (or the Miami Herald editorial board, for that matter) needs to show political courage to explain that failing to keep up with the costs of growth -- now being piled on the backs of taxpayers -- was a deliberate policy to accommodate "cheap growth".

Ask the question: who wanted "cheap growth" to define the investment priorities for Miami-Dade County and watch the lobbyist corps scurry to the recesses.

Eye On Miami calls for a Special Commission On Infrastructure Deficits, by Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

Who wanted to suppress water rates? Call back to testify, former directors of Miami-Dade Water and Sewer. Put names and faces together, as Congress is doing today.

This is a call for accountability. Accountability is a good thing. Right, Mayor Gimenez? Right, county commissioners? Is anyone listening?

Along this line, we re-post an email string written by Dr. Sydney Bacchus, a scientist who has been a crusader for accountability in water pollution for decades. Dr. Bacchus wrote last week, decrying news reports about severely degraded water quality as though these massive deficits are blameless affairs, without proof or substantiation that should have guided elected officials. As you read this, bear in mind that the US EPA has continuously dodged its own responsibilities to enforce the Clean Water Act in Florida, allowing squadrons of foxes into the hen houses throughout the state of Florida. This isn't speculation, this is fact:

------ Forwarded Message
From: sydney
Date: Wed, 08 May 2013 16:10:49 -0400
To: Jim Waymer Florida Today , Kevin Spear Orlando
Sentinel , Editor Florida Today
, Katie Tripp

Subject: No Shit! Something is happening in the Indian River Lagoon

Dear Jim and Kevin,

I'm dismayed and weary of reading articles by the media - like the following ones by both of you - about chronic algal blooms and resulting deaths of manatees, dolphins and countless other organisms in the Indian River Lagoon and other coastal waters in Florida. Maybe it's because everyone has been drinking fluoridated water for so long.

REGARDING THE FOLLOWING QUOTES, YOU HAVE BEEN ASKING THE WRONG SCIENTISTS:

"Scientists can’t say with any certainty what’s wrong, though all agree something has gone awry and may be irreversible."

"Scientists can offer little comfort — and few answers — to such concerns."

"Scientists can’t say with any certainty what’s wrong, though all agree something has gone awry and may be irreversible."

“Right now, nobody has any clue what’s wrong,” said Mike Badarack, who runs flats-fishing charters in the lagoon. “Just everything’s dying.”

ACTUALLY, MIKE, THERE ARE SEVERAL SCIENTISTS WHO HAVE MORE THAN A "CLUE" WHAT'S WRONG

"Is our lagoon in a death spiral?"

YES, YOUR LAGOON IS IN A DEATH SPIRAL AND HAS BEEN FOR AT LEAST 20 YEARS.

I'M GOING TO TRY TO EXPLAIN THIS IN TERMS THAT THE MEDIA AND THE PUBLIC CAN UNDERSTAND. IT'S NOT "NO SHIT" - IT'S "SHITLOADS OF SHIT" - MILLIONS OF GALLONS OF MUNICIPAL SEWAGE BEING INJECTED INTO THE AQUIFER IN THE INDIAN RIVER LAGOON AND ALONG FLORIDA'S COAST.

I HAVE GIVEN COUNTLESS PRESENTATIONS THROUGHOUT FLORIDA - INCLUDING IN BREVARD COUNTY - AND NUMEROUS SCIENTIFIC PAPERS HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED ON THIS CAUSE OF THE MALADIES DESCRIBED IN THE FOLLOWING QUOTES FROM YOUR ARTICLES BELOW.



I HAVE SUBMITTED WRITTEN NOTIFICATIONS TO THE OFFENDING AGENCIES - PRIMARILY FDEP, EPA AND MUNICIPALITIES, REPEATEDLY.

I HAVE NOTIFIED KATIE TRIPP (SAVE THE MANATEES), SIERRA CLUB AND OTHER "ENVIRONMENTAL" ORGANIZATIONS IN WRITING AND IN PERSON, REPEATEDLY.

I HAVE NOTIFIED THE MEDIA, REPEATEDLY.

YET THESE MEDIA ARTICLES CONTINUE TO SUGGEST THAT THIS IS A BIG MYSTERY AND ALL THAT CAN BE DONE IS TO STAND THERE, DOING NECROPSIES OF DEAD ORGANISMS, AND WRINGING HANDS.

IF ANYONE REALLY WANTS TO SAVE THE INDIAN RIVER LAGOON AND WHAT'S LEFT OF FLORIDA'S COLLAPSING COASTAL WATERS, FORCE THE AGENCIES AND MUNICIPALITIES TO STOP INJECTING YOUR SHIT INTO THE AQUIFER.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION, YOU CAN START WITH THE E-BOOK THAT I PUBLISHED IN 2005, CITED AS FOLLOWS EXPLAINS, HOW FLUIDS INJECTED INTO THE AQUIFER RESURFACE IN FLORIDA'S SURFACE WATERS:
Bacchus, S.T. 2005. Adverse Environmental Impacts of Artificial Recharge Known As "Aquifer Storage and Recovery" (ASR) in Southern Florida: Implications for Everglades Restoration,
http://www.thethirdplanet.org/downloads.html, 106 pp.


"Officials estimate the sport and commercial fishing industries lost up to
$316 million as a result."

""We are in a crisis mode," said Troy Rice, director of the Indian River
Lagoon National Estuary Program."

""Tripp, the Save the Manatee Club scientist, said the lagoon's plight
underscores the vulnerability of manatees, which have been under
consideration for reclassification from "endangered" to the less-dire
category of "threatened.""

"Biologists salvage dead manatees in nets so full of the stringy stuff theycan barely lift them."

"While the manatees die quickly, the dolphins show signs of a drawn-out syndrome."

"They also find high incidence of tumors, heart problems, cancer, stomach ulcers, skin lesions, genital herpes and other emerging ailments previously thought rare in dolphins."

"In recent years, biologists also have found antibiotics in the lagoon are creating a breeding ground for “superbugs” resistant to penicillin and several other common antibiotics."

'"Maybe now that there are pelicans falling out of the sky, then maybe the public will start rallying on behalf of the system," Souto said."

______________
http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20130506/NEWS01/305060028/A-lagoon-colla
pse-Something-happening-Indian-River-Lagoon?gcheck=1

Theories differ, but one thing is sure.
Something is happening in the Indian River Lagoon
Written by
Jim Waymer FLORIDA TODAY
jwaymer@floridatoday.com

MELBOURNE — Something’s wrong with the Indian River Lagoon.

Manatees, dolphins and pelicans are dying at record rates. Blue crabs seem
weak. Bloom after bloom of algae clouds the lagoon’s seagrass.

Scientists can’t say with any certainty what’s wrong, though all agree
something has gone awry and may be irreversible.

Some point to global warming. Others blame pollution. Even manatees are
among the speculation about what’s triggered the collapse.

Whatever the reasons, those who make their living on the lagoon — North
America’s most biologically diverse estuary — witness daily signs of decline
that make them worry: Is our lagoon in a death spiral?

“Right now, nobody has any clue what’s wrong,” said Mike Badarack, who runs
flats-fishing charters in the lagoon. “Just everything’s dying.”

Seagrass sews the lagoon’s food web. It provides a nursery for fish and
other young marine life to feed and hide, protecting them from predators as
they grow. Each acre of grass supports 10,000 fish and fuels $5,000 to
$10,000 in economic activity. The lagoon provides $3.7 billion in annual
economic benefits for the five-county region surrounding the 156-mile-long
estuary.

The grass is also an important food for other creatures, most notably,
manatees. A 1,000-pound sea cow can eat up to 150 pounds of it a day.

But after rebounding to levels not seen since Word War II, seagrass has been
retreating since 2009, all but disappearing in many areas.

Winter 2009–2010 was the coldest since records began being kept in 1937. It
triggered massive changes in the lagoon, including widespread dieoff of the
drift algae that typically absorbs nutrients from the water, nutrients that
otherwise would feed phytoplankton, tiny organisms that cloud the water,
depriving seagrass of sunlight.

In moderation, drift algae is good, providing food and cover for marine life
and sponging up nutrients from the water. But too much can choke out
seagrass.

In recent years, it has been entangled in a boom-and-bust cycle, leaving the
lagoon with either too little of too much.

When the lagoon’s drift algae crashed under the extreme cold, it unleashed
massive amounts of nutrients for phytoplankton to thrive on.
Cold snap
A second cold snap in December 2010 and drought that rendered the lagoon
saltier than usual in early 2011 thwarted the recovery of drift algae and
the tiny marine organisms that graze on phytoplankton.

As a result, by spring 2011 a phytoplankton “superbloom” exploded in
Mosquito Lagoon and northern Indian River Lagoon. It was the largest,
densest bloom of its kind on record and resulted in the loss of 31,600 acres
of seagrass, almost 50 square miles.

Officials estimate the sport and commercial fishing industries lost up to
$316 million as a result.

Fishermen had hoped the seagrass would recover last year. It didn’t. Now the
wildlife that relies upon it keeps dying. Dazed pelicans collapse on docks.
Their corpses float in lagoon tributaries such as Crane Creek. Badarack
laments a lagoon “graveyard” that includes dead manatees and dolphins that
get increasingly awkward to explain to his charter customers.

“Clammer” Bill Bowler pulls up crab traps covered in a thick silt-like,
decaying brown algae, which differs from drift algae, and with fewer blue
crabs than he’s seen since he began crabbing the lagoon 21 years ago.

“Long term, if things don’t change, I’ll be out of a job,” Bowler said.

Scientists can offer little comfort — and few answers — to such concerns.
The St. Johns River Water Management District and the Indian River Lagoon
National Estuary Program will spend $3.7 million through 2016 to try to
unravel the ecological mystery. Some biologists point to a “perfect storm”
of extreme cold, drought and other climate factors that turbocharged algae
growth. They warn of more similar climate extremes predicted by global
warming. Others say the lagoon’s death march is rooted in our fertilizer
excesses. Still others point to septic tanks, land-cover changes, maybe all
the above. Long-sought solutions include stricter local fertilizer
ordinances, sewer and stormwater upgrades, or even new ocean inlets.

But biologists warn of a tipping point where the estuary permanently shifts
to a place where phytoplankton and drift algae out-compete the more
fish-friendly seagrass, for good. So Badarack and others hope answers and
solutions arrive before further ecological crash.

“People are showing up for nature tours to see wildlife and you’re showing
them a graveyard,” Badarack said.
'Superbloom'
After the 2011 “superbloom,” things grew even worse for seagrass. In June
2012, a brown tide algae began blooming, turning the water a chocolate
brown. It was the same species that caused several consecutive years of
massive seagrass, clam and bay scallop die-offs in Long Island’s southern
bays and similar, though less severe, ecological effects in Texas
estuaries.

A few months later, an even more dangerous algae, Pyrodinium bahamense,
turned up in the northern lagoon and Banana River, near the highest levels
biologists had ever measured it here. The reddish algae, which has plagued
the estuary during the past decade, creates a deadly poison called
saxitoxin. It’s toxic to fish, shellfish and made 28 people sick in 2002 and
2003 after they ate pufferfish in the Titusville area, leading to a state
ban on harvesting the fish.
Saxitoxin
But saxitoxin hasn’t turned up in samples from the most recent wildlife
die-offs.

Brown tide has recently returned in the lagoon, biologists say, though not
as bad.

Also of concern is that the tiny “grazers,” marine animals that eat
phytoplankton, declined during the blooms, as did filter-feeding clams.

The lagoon escaped major fish kills. But marine life continues to struggle.

“This is probably the worst year since I’ve been crabbing,” Bowler said.
“I’ve seen several dead manatees this year.”

Among the most alarming aspects of the recent die-offs, biologists say, is
the sudden “toxic shock” manner in which the manatees drown. They otherwise
appear plump and healthy, with bellies filled with the drift algae.
Biologists salvage dead manatees in nets so full of the stringy stuff they
can barely lift them.

“We believe it’s the result of a dietary shift,” Tom Reinert, an FWC
research administrator, recently told the lagoon advisory board. “We found
no evidence of known disease.”

There’s no known toxic drift algae in the lagoon but biologists suspect
there might be, or some unknown toxic microalgae clinging to it.

“We’re not sure it’s a toxin. It has all the hallmarks of that,” Reinert
said.

While the manatees die quickly, the dolphins show signs of a drawn-out
syndrome.

“They were very thin, and there were signs of disease,” said Blair Mase,
NOAA’s Southeast regional marine mammal stranding coordinator.

As many as half the dolphins studied in the lagoon in the past decade suffer
from some form of chronic infectious disease, suggesting compromised immune
systems.

Researchers find levels of mercury — a potent neurotoxin — in the skin and
blood of lagoon dolphins that are higher than in any other dolphins that
have been studied.

They also find high incidence of tumors, heart problems, cancer, stomach
ulcers, skin lesions, genital herpes and other emerging ailments previously
thought rare in dolphins.

Dolphins captured near Merritt Island, especially, seem in poor health. And
researchers point to water tainted by treated sewage and runoff as the
possible cause.

In recent years, biologists also have found antibiotics in the lagoon are
creating a breeding ground for “superbugs” resistant to penicillin and
several other common antibiotics. Scientists have found such bacteria in the
guts of one in every five lagoon dolphins tested, making them susceptible to
disease and “reservoirs” for stronger bacteria more likely to make people
sick.
Manatees to blame?
Only an estimated 600 to 700 dolphins live in the lagoon. Three times as
many manatees may reside there. And some coastal residents wonder if the
plentiful sea cow and its wastes have denuded lagoon seagrass beyond the
point of no return.

Troy Rice, director of the Indian River Lagoon Program, doubts that theory.

“It’s not an incidence of sea cows overgrazing,” he said. “We think the
seagrass loss is directly related to the nutrients.”

Those are predominately from fertilizers from yards and farms, biologists
say. Other sources are air pollution, septic tanks, groundwater flowing up
in the lagoon, and the long legacy of algae boom-bust cycles left behind as
decaying matter. Nitrogen and phosphorus in the lagoon — as well as
pathogens — also come from cats, dogs and other animals.

During the next three years, the lagoon program will shepherd a $3.7 million
effort to identify causes and potential solutions to the lagoon’s recent
ills.

One proposed idea is selective weeding of drift algae.

Opening up Canaveral Locks more often to increase flushing in the lagoon was
tried several years ago. But that caused the Barge Canal to silt in,
required expensive dredging and had minimal, localized benefits to water
quality, Rice said.
New inlets
Another idea is to dredge a new inlet.

John Windsor, a professor with Florida Tech’s Department of Marine and
Environmental Systems, said the idea has been around for decades.

But a new inlet would likely have consequences, scientists say, such as
beach erosion and loss of biodiversity. “Is there any place along the
barrier islands that we wouldn’t get public outrage?” Windsor said.

On Fire Island, NY, government officials are weighing whether to leave alone
a channel torn open by Hurricane Sandy, so seawater can keep pouring in to
flush out pollution in Great South Bay.

To flush out Indian River Lagoon, one idea is to drill a series of big
culverts under the barrier island, to and from the lagoon, to exchange water
when needed. “That would be very expensive to do that,” Rice said. “There
would be a very high operating cost.

“You’re just diluting the pollution that is there,” Rice added. “I think the
answer to pollution is reducing pollution.”

So does “Clammer” Bill Bowler, especially when it comes to fertilizer.

“You look at people’s nice green lawns. Yeah, they look fantastic. But
you’re going to end up having a dead river,” the Cocoa Beach crabber said.
“Your front yard may look great , but you’re going to ask yourself, ‘What’s
that smell coming from the back yard?’ ”

_______________
Orlando Sentinel

Manatee, pelican deaths suggest serious problems for Indian River Lagoon

9:00 p.m. EDT, March 21, 2013

Link to Kevin Spear Fox 36 interview
video: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/videogallery/74958106/Video-Kevin-Spea
r-talks-about-recent-manatee-deaths

The mysterious deaths of dozens of manatees and hundreds of pelicans may be
an indication that the ailing Indian River Lagoon, among the state's most
magnificent waterways, is headed for one of the more epic collapses of a
Florida ecosystem in years.

The 156-mile-long lagoon, one of the richest marine environments in North
America, has suffered extensive blooms of microscopic algae in recent years
that have in turn triggered mass die-offs of seagrass, the submerged plants
that shelter many aquatic species and are a primary source of food for
manatees.

Scientists feared something bad would happen as a result, and beginning last
summer manatees began perishing in areas with the worst seagrass losses,
mainly in Brevard County, though no cause of death has been determined.

"The loss of manatees has been less than we've seen with red tide and from
cold stress in recent years. But to me, this is scarier," said Katie Tripp,
science director of the Save the Manatee Club.

"With cold stress, we know it's going to warm up, and with red tide we know
pretty much what to expect. But it's been a long time since we've had
manatees dying off in large numbers for reasons that aren't known," Tripp
said.

Coinciding with the unexplained deaths of 80 manatees as of Thursday is the
rising toll of brown pelicans, whose deaths also have no explanation. State
officials said that, as of Thursday, nearly 230 pelican carcasses have been
recovered or reported this year.

Dan Wolf, a state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist, said
he and other investigators think the pelican and manatee deaths are related,
even though there are perplexing differences.

"Manatees eat plants, and pelicans eat fish. The only thing they share is
water," Wolf said.

Wolf said that whatever is afflicting the pelicans kills a bird during a
span of weeks and leaves its victims emaciated and plagued with parasites.
By contrast, the manatees appear to sicken and die quickly — and, as far as
investigators know, display no warning symptoms.

"We've seen signs of acute shock and drowning," said Martine deWit, an FWC
veterinarian.

State investigators think that the loss of seagrass has forced manatees to
forage on a type of red-colored algae in the Indian River known as
gracilaria. Necropsies of manatees have found their stomachs filled with it.

"It looks like they ingest this stuff, and once it gets into their system,
it causes an issue with their intestines, and there actually seems to be a
reaction in the small intestine," said Andy Garrett, an FWC marine-mammal
biologist.

Gracilaria isn't thought to be toxic. So the challenge for investigators is
to determine whether there is an unknown toxin at work. But even if
investigators determine what is killing the manatees and pelicans, there may
not be much that can be done to prevent further deaths, deWit said.

The same holds for the health of the Indian River overall. State water
managers now fear that "nutrient" pollution tied to street runoff, lawn
fertilizers and sewage is driving the lagoon's ecosystem. That pollution,
which is essentially plant food, has been absorbed through the years by
seagrasses or by gracilaria and other large species of algae.

But cold snaps in 2010 and 2011 killed much of that large algae, which
decomposed and released the nutrient pollution back into the water, where it
triggered an explosive growth of single-cell, microscopic algae in three
sections of the lagoon. Those blooms of microscopic algae then blocked
sunlight from reaching the surviving seagrass, killing off more than 30,000
acres of the plants.

"We are in a crisis mode," said Troy Rice, director of the Indian River
Lagoon National Estuary Program.

The question now is whether the lagoon is transforming from a system where
seagrasses and large algae absorb nutrient pollution to a system in which
microscopic algae are in control. Charles Jacoby, a St. Johns River Water
Management District scientist, said there are many examples of ecosystems
making that "flip."

"When they flip, they flip pretty radically," he said. "Sometimes it takes a
lot of effort to flip them back."

What's happening to the coastal waterway, which extends from New Smyrna
Beach south to Jupiter and is a major manatee habitat, has been drawing much
attention, including from dolphin biologists.

"Because of what's going on with manatees, we're on alert," said Megan
Stolen, a scientist at Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, which documented a
mini-spike of five dolphin deaths in February, up from the month's average
of 2.3 deaths.

Leesa Souto, executive director of the Marine Resources Council, which
advocates lagoon restoration, hopes recent events finally trigger a critical
mass of public and government concern.

"Maybe now that there are pelicans falling out of the sky, then maybe the
public will start rallying on behalf of the system," Souto said. "I'm
hearing from people here in Melbourne that, 'Oh, we saw another dead
manatee.' And these are children."

Tripp, the Save the Manatee Club scientist, said the lagoon's plight
underscores the vulnerability of manatees, which have been under
consideration for reclassification from "endangered" to the less-dire
category of "threatened."

Chuck Underwood, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman, said agency
biologists are asking questions about the lagoon's deterioration, including
what it may mean for manatee conservation.

"The answer is, we are not sure," Underwood said.

kspear@tribune.com or 407-420-5062

Copyright © 2013, Orlando Sentinel

22 comments:

Chris said...

The entire maritime industry (fishing/boating) in the state has already collapsed (we're left with sports fishing and yacht manufacturing. Brown algae regularly makes waterways unhealthy to swim in (I know of cases of miscarriage from exposure). But don't worry about any of this. The County plans to throw a lot of money at it and make it go away. But only when the municipal water system is privatized in the coming years will it really be gone.

Anonymous said...

Ask Terry Murphy to testify.

Anonymous said...

How about Bill Brandt?

Anonymous said...

Well all know that former county managers were notorious for taking the enterprise revenue from WASD and moving them into the general fund. Among the worst offenders was George Burgess. I believe that the only commissioner at the time who fought this practice is now the sitting mayor. Maybe Katy Sorenson as well. As they say, it is time to pay the piper, but I agree with you, who was playing the music that got us here??? Maybe the mayor should have a task force that reviews this issue so we don't repeat mistakes in the future. I think a good charter amendment would prohibit the county from shifting WASD revenues to the general fund. Keep that money to fund capital improvements that are needed to efficiently run the system, and provide the cleanest water possible.

Malagodi said...

Forget about it. Go for a walk and enjoy the everglades while you still can, says WLRN/Miami Herald "News".

http://wlrn.org/post/enjoy-floridas-wetlands-they-disappear

Anonymous said...

Don't look for accountability from anyone or leadership from anyone or anything. Especially the Miami Herald. Didn't you hear? No one is in charge anymore in Miami Dade County and no one cares. It's all about having fun, making money (by whatever means necessary) and looking good. When the music stops, everyone leaves the party. And no one even bothers to pick up the mess left behind.

Anonymous said...

There should be (another) Grand Jury investigation. This time, may be someone will be charged.

100panthers said...

Look to GOP delegation in Tallahassee. Every year they introduce bills to delay law that requires cleaner sewage and less going out in outfall pipes (outfall being a nice name for semi-treated sewage into the Bay/Ocean). Every year these GOPers try to extend the deadline by which to close these pipes. Here is a video of these 'outfall' pipes. Think this encourages tourists?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APsC_89PzOw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLnyf98iiho&feature=related

Anonymous said...

Wait a second - why doesn't the County slap a serious surcharge on the developers building all these upscale condos everywhere from Miami Beach to Brickell and beyond. How did these developer's get water and sewage permit hookups? Or maybe they won't? That will be hoot - you can't move in to your million dollar condo because it has no water or sewage service.

Anonymous said...

If deep well injection has done this to the Indian River Lagoon - what will it do for Biscayne Bay. One of the proposals on the table is for Miami Dade County to build deep well injection on Virginia Key to dispose of the treated sewage. That's injecting the treated sewage into our aquifer, too. Between the destruction brought by the Nuclear Power Plant, the Deep Dredge of the Port of Miami and sewage, Biscayne Bay will die - right in our generation. Seeing these decisions go on day after day and being helpless to stop it is depressing.

Anonymous said...

Check hotel and resorts lobbies who would be big payers of any rate hikes.

Anonymous said...

If you've ever lived in a condo you know this is the way maintenance and budgets are done. Hide everything.

Anonymous said...

Developers accuse Miami-Dade Water & Sewer Department of extortion. WASA denies permits unless a developer fronts 100% of the money for new 12" main water lines to service the subject project and sometimes dozens of neighbors. Extortion. Then WASA refuses to reimburse the victim as it hooks up new line to new customers. RICO violation?

mahalo said...

Please don't suggest that the problem at Water and Sewer is a lack of funding. It wasn't very long ago when the Herald uncovered the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department was paying for 4,200 cell phone accounts. Most of the cell phones were stolen and sold on eBay to lucky users who bought an active phone at no cost. The Water and Sewer Department has so much money coming in, no one noticed.

And what about the Water and Sewer postage scandal in which the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Assistant Director Sharon Mitchell repeatedly gave her mail room clerk checks of $50,000 (totaling $1 million) for unnecessary postage that the clerk promptly embezzled. They have so much money, no one noticed $1 million missing. There were no financial controls.

The Water and Sewer Department also had plenty of money to build a luxurious new administration building for themselves on Douglas Road. That money could and should have been used to fix aging water pipes.

The problem is not a lack of money. It is mismanagement and incompetence at the Water and Sewer Department and in the Budget Department. Get rid of Burgess/Alvarez crony John Renfrow and find a department director who has his or her priorities in order.

Anonymous said...

That is sick!
If in fact Municipal sewage is being injected into the aquifer, where is the public uproar?
Is it legal?

Anonymous said...

WASA Management and staff seem to be participating in a criminal enterprise. The fees are enormous and WASA overpaid employes always claim poverty.

Anonymous said...

I was having low pressure water issues from the 50 year old, aging 2" cast iron water line servicing our neighborhood at the time when the last M-D County layoffs were announced. I recalled listening to a WASD employee tell another his coworker on the job that the county was transferring employees from other County departments into WASD because there were no mandated layoffs for WASD. So not only does the County remove funds from WASD; they also shift expenses into WASD.

Anonymous said...

The Vile Seijas was completely against raising fees for water & sewer. "Float" her into the grand jury room so she can explain her rationale and her great relationship with Bill Brandt.

Anonymous said...

The transfer of funds from WASD to 'downtown' that began in the early 1990s had been discontinued for several years, until Mayor Gimenez reached in and grabbed $25 million to balance his first tax-cut budget.

It was Mayor Gimenez who, while on the Commission, had the automatic rate adjustment Maintenance Index eliminated...which has flat-lined the rates for the last four years.

People need to know the facts before they get all confused about Mayor Gimenez.

Anonymous said...

The current team of scoundrels at WASD has no interest in addressing any of these issues. They are all on borrowed time, milking the cow as long as they can. They are all on DROP or in some cases, have already retired and are in their second career.

They LAUGH at these articles and comments! (Often citing this blog at staff meetings!)

They threaten employees not to dare speak up, and get rid of those who do!

All of them make $125k +. Some make $200k+. They have all been in the county over 30 years when they start retiring soon. At 80% retirement for the rest of their lives, how could the County afford to fix old pipes?

And Carlos Gimenez is aware of all of it!

Anonymous said...

Try Tony Clemente. Maybe he's ready to talk?

Anonymous said...

Go back and watch any of the BCC meetings where the subject of raising water rates came up and you'll see that the culprits were the commissioners. One or two old ladies from Hialeah would sob into the microphone that they couldn't afford their water bills and that was all it took for those chickensh*ts to keep the rates artificially low. And then raid WASD's reserves to supplement the general fund. WASD has not kept the need to raise rates and take care of the problems a secret. Look to Burgess and the BCC.