Water Breaks, Sewer Back-Ups: Sea Level Rising, Saltwater Erosion & Disposable Wipes Add Up To A Problem

Hallandale Beach Mayor, Joy Cooper

September 30, 2021

When the sea level or flash flooding puts pressure on the pipes water seeps in. When the pipe is full the water overflows or seeps out. When you add the fact, people throw towels and other items down the drain, our pipes and more importantly lift stations get clogged and even become broken from the strain.

Over the past year our City has continued to see numerous water breaks and sewer back-ups. While they both have to do with water these two types of situations come with different impacts. The root cause is the age of our pipes but there are other factors. Sea level rising, saltwater erosion and in the case of our sewer lines disposable wipes.

Our sewer system is made up of different types and ages of pipes. The pipes are connected to lift stations that are strategically placed around the city to meet the demands in each area. Basically, waste comes from your home or apartment through gravity mains which fill and then travel to a station. These stations fill and then are pumped out with pressure. The process continues to two main pumps that connect to Hollywood and then to their treatment plant.

Our City has contracted with Hollywood for years as part of a large user’s agreement. Pembroke Park, Pembroke Pines, Miramar and Dania joined and created the system. Over the years Pembroke Pines and Miramar built plants out west. An agreement was negotiated where they would need to pay for an agreed cost to get out of the agreement. In return it freed up capacity for the cities in the east.

The old pipes in our City as well as access points like manhole covers and cracked pipes create what is called I&I Inflow and Infiltration. When the sea level puts pressure on the pipes water seeps in. When the pipe is full the water overflows or seeps out. When you add the fact, people throw towels and other items down the drain, our pipes and more importantly lift stations get clogged and even become broken from the strain. Our residents need to know if they use these wipes and are truly not flushable, they are clogging our drains.

With King Tides I&I is compounded. The system gets strained. Even in Hollywood you can see pumps next to the pump stations. Their system like ours can get overwhelmed. Last meeting, we discussed working with them to see what they are planning to address.

When the pumps break, we need to put in bypass pumps until we can repair the damage. Sadly, in two cases in the Southwest Section, a person turned off the pump due to the noise. This occurred twice and since then we have secured and posted. It is illegal to damage or to tamper with this equipment, if you are caught, you can be arrested and fined. This act can create environmental damage. It can also create backups and flooding.

In the case of our water pipes. Sea level rising also impacts the pipes. Our water pipes, like sewer pipes, run through-out the City and interconnect to pumps. The difference is that the water is continually under pressure. On the beach, we have the water tower and in condominiums there are also booster pumps. This potable water must be kept under pressure. As pipes age and get eroded, the pipes can burst. In addition to erosion, the valve system where we can turn sections on and off, are also impacted.

There is another issue that comes up with these breaks. Going in and fixing them stops the breaks but may disturb connections along the line.

Once these pipes burst, there is a threat of possible contamination. Typically, “Boiled Water Alerts” do not last that long but can depending on the severity of the break. The longest alert I can recall over the past 30 years was from a hurricane. There was contamination of the well field out west that impacted everyone’s water supply. During the alerts, the staff were testing the water until they knew that it was clear.

It is not all bad news. We are very fortunate to have a great team in our Department of Public Works under the leadership of Director Jeff Odoms. They are on call 24-7-365. They have been working on doing all of the repairs and he is getting service updates ASAP. The other great news is we have approved a plan to replace and or repair all of our lift stations.

For those residents that wish to celebrate the life of Vice Mayor William Julian, there will be a mass held starting at 10:00 a.m. at Saint Matthews Church, located at 542 Blue Heron Drive, Hallandale Beach, Florida 33009. After the service, there will be a memorial brick dedication at our Veteran’s Memorial, located at City Hall 400 South Federal Highway, Hallandale Beach, Florida 33009. Refreshments will follow at the American Legion Post 310, located at 225 Southeast 1st Avenue, Hallandale Beach, Florida 33009.

As always, I am available anytime for your questions, concerns and ideas to make our City, a better place, on my phone/text at: (954) 632-5700. Or you can e-mail me at: jcooper@cohb.org Please visit my Facebook Page: MayorJoyCooper. Like It! Friend It! Share It!