Coconut Grove residents say economic growth is getting flushed down a very old, rickety sewer system: Miami-Dade County has placed a moratorium on new toilets and sinks in the neighborhood, the Miami Herald reports.
Twelve permit applications for toilets, sinks, or showers have been denied in the Grove since August, the Herald says. At heart -- er, bottom -- of the issue is an overworked main pump station already handling more raw sewage than it was meant to do.
"It's frustrating," Pearl Meyer, who is merely trying to add a sink for a coffee bar -- and new revenue stream -- to her Mayfair flower shop. "We've been dealing with the permit process for six months, and this was just the latest hang up."
The Grove's Pump Station #9 is just one of the many problems with Miami-Dade's aging sewage and water treatment systems. With repairs put off for too many years, CBS Miami reported in July the county now faces an estimated $1.1 billion bill to patch up and improve its drainage.
But by September, that number had jumped to $12 billion according to Water and Sewer Department Director John Renfrow, who said 13,000 miles of the network needed to be replaced.
Many of the pipes are more than 50 years old, according to CBS, prompting the many water and sewer main breaks across Miami in recent years.
The problem is so bad, in fact, that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency along with the Department of Justice and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection cited the county in May for violating the Clean Water Act.
At that time, Renfrow described the system as "being held together by chewing gum." Officials are currently warning an underwater sewage pipe from Fisher Island to Miami Beach is so fragile it could rupture any second, spilling waste along some of the most expensive and publicly-used shoreline in the county.
"You're working with a time bomb right now," explained County Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz, according to Miami Today. "Tourism is our thing and it would affect the areas we don't want to affect."
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