Proposed wastewater well in Pompano Beach stirs outrage, protests

POMPANO BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Some concerned Broward County residents came together Sunday to protest plans for a new wastewater treatment well in Pompano Beach.

At issue is leachate, the liquid that drains from decomposing garbage at the Monarch Hill landfill in Pompano Beach. “You know, there’s toxic metals in there. The rainwater pours down on the landfill,” said Broward County Commissioner Beam Furr. “Anything that’s in there gets leached out.”

To make sure the leachate doesn’t contaminate drinking water, it is piped to a Broward County treatment facility where it’s cleaned and put into a deep injection well, which pumps it thousands of feet underground.

But now Waste Management, the company that runs Monarch Hill, wants to build its own deep injection well and put untreated leachate in it. “Throughout the state, there’s multiple deep injection wells that take leachate and directly deposit it into a well,” said Waster Management spokesperson Dawn McCormick.

When asked whether the leachate is not treated, McCormick, replied, “correct.”

The idea is leaving residents outraged. Many were seen protesting on the corner of Powerline and Wiles roads.

“We’re here just to make a statement that Waste Management has chosen the wrong hill to put wastewater under,” said a demonstrator.

Karen Caputo, the president of a community group called Friends of Hollywood, said those behind the push for the new well may not regard the public’s well-being as their top priority. “We don’t feel that private industry is going to be as concerned. They’ll be making a profit,” she said.

But even more concerning for neighbors is that the permit would also give Waste Management the option to bring in third party liquid waste. “We don’t know the source, and we don’t know what would be in that leachate,” said Furr.

The permit would allow Waste Management to bring in 300,000 gallons daily by truck, eventually increasing that amount to 780,000 gallons a day.

At a recent meeting, officials with the The Florida Department of Environmental Protection listened to Broward residents express their misgivings about the proposed well. “I’m here because I have to tell the commissioners and Waste Management that I don’t trust them,” said one man.

One woman said the increase in traffic will invariably lead to a nightmare for local drivers. “Do you know how many trucks would go through our city? An additional 480 trucks through our city,” she said. “We’ve got school buses, we’ve got families taking our kids to school.”

There are 35 other deep injection wells operating in Broward County, and Waste Management said Monarch Hill’s well would be nothing new. “We’re making sound, reasoned decisions based on proven science,” said McCormick.

Broward County officials disagree, and they are asking the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to just say no. “This is government’s job, to take care of the health of the citizens. That’s why we treat the garbage. That’s why we treat the water,” said Furr. “I think it’s better that these kinds of things are in government’s hands.”

Whether or not Waste Management will receive a well permit remains to be seen. The decision from the state is expected in the coming weeks.

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