NORTH MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) – Crews are working around the clock to repair a wastewater pipe that broke over the weekend and released sewage into the waters of northeastern Miami-Dade County, prompting a no-swim advisory.
The ruptured pipe is located about nine feet underwater and an additional three feet below the ground at Oleta River State Park, where signs now alert swimmers to refrain from going in the water.
The county immediately hired an emergency contractor to begin repairs.
“The anticipation is that the bypass pipe that is going to be installed in order for us to be able to contain this spill will be finished and enacted by Thursday night,” said Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department spokesperson Jennifer Messemer-Skold.
In addition to the Oleta State Park, other areas included in the advisory include Maule Lake, Greynolds Park and the Intracoastal Waterway. The beaches within 500 feet north and south of the Haulover Inlet were also affected.
“There’s supposed to be no recreational activities, including swimming, kayaking, boating or fishing,” said Messemer-Skold.
On Haulover Beach, beachgoers lounging on the sand on Tuesday said the water appears clean.
“Well, the water looks really nice,” said beachgoer Brandon Shaffman.
But others said looks can be deceiving.
“It doesn’t look like I’m going in today,” said beachgoer Jessy Ayala. “It sounds like Florida has a problem.”
Despite the double red flags, some beachgoers still took their chances.
“I was really sandy. I didn’t want to go all the way over there to get the sand off, so I just kind of dipped in real quick,” said Shaffman.
Others, however, kept their distance from the water.
“I figured I might as well just go and just not get in the water and not really fuss about it too much,” said beachgoer Miranda Lample.
County officials said they cannot turn off the waste line because it would disrupt sewer service in Sunny Isles, Golden Beach and the Eastern Shores community of North Miami Beach.
Crews are testing the water, and county officials said they plan to lift the advisory once the repairs are completed and tests come back clear for several consecutive days.
“Once the bypass is installed, we will then enact Step 2, which would be to have a permanent repair made to the 48-inch wastewater line,” said Messemer-Skold. “That would begin after the bypass is installed by Thursday night.”
Officials expect the swim advisory to remain in place throughout the weekend.
“I’m staying on the sand just reading my book, just relaxing,” said Lample.
County leaders have asked area residents to refrain from using water for non-essential purposes like doing laundry and using their dishwashers until they have repaired the pipe.
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