Crews complete repairs on 4th sewer main break in Fort Lauderdale

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Emergency repairs are now complete in a Fort Lauderdale neighborhood after yet another sewer main rupture, the fourth in just over two weeks.

Although the leak appears to be contained, the series of ruptures have left area residents frustrated and demanding swift action from city officials.

“It is very annoying,” said resident Linda Berman.

7News cameras captured crews finishing their work in the Victoria Park neighborhood, Saturday afternoon.

City officials said the 16-inch line broke along the 1600 block of Northeast Fifth Street, just before 9 a.m., Friday.

Area resident Roma Lambert said the smell made her ill.

“When he had the pipe out of the manhole, and the steam was coming out of it that week, literally, it did stink all over the neighborhood, and it made me sick at my stomach,” she said.

“You watch your friends and neighbors have to go through this on their actual street, it’s really just unbelievable,” said Berman.

Cameras captured crews hard at work well after the sun went down, Friday night.

“They’re doing the best they can, I know, but it’s just such a shame we have to have this infrastructure taken care of,” said a woman who lives nearby.

Although crews have been able to remove most of the standing water, that wasn’t the case hours earlier, on Friday morning, when 7SkyForce HD flew above this newest break and showed sewage flowing onto roadways.

Workers were seen walking through ankle-deep water and power-cleaning the sidewalks.

Crews wrapped up their work on Saturday at around 5 p.m. In a statement sent shortly after, city officials said Northeast Fifth Street is only open to local traffic between Northeast 16th Avenue and 17th Way while remediation work continues.

The new break is the fourth to impact the city in under three weeks. The leaks appear to be creeping north.

The other three ruptures occurred in or near the Rio Vista neighborhood:

  • Dec. 10: Hector Park, along Ponce de Leon Drive in Rio Vista
  • Dec. 20: Virginia Young Park, near SE 10th St. and 9th Ave. in Rio Vista
  • Dec. 21: Himmarshee Canal, near SE 2nd St. and 9th Ave. in Beverly Heights and Vista
  • Dec. 27: along the 1600 block of NE 5th St. in Victoria Park

The first two breaks in Rio Vista were the biggest: a huge 54-inch pipe.

“It runs all the way from Coral Ridge Country Club all the way down to 17th Street Causeway, near the cruise ships,” a man told 7News.

The Himmarshee Canal leak required divers to go underwater to fix it.

Friday’s pipe burst took place underneath a Toyota sedan, causing the vehicle to partly sink. The car had to be towed before crews could begin digging and make repairs.

Officials said all the cracking pipes are old ones that need to be replaced.

The latest break was not as large as the previous ones, where millions of gallons of raw sewage poured into the Tarpon River for days.

Despite this break being the smallest of the four, residents still consider it disruptive.

“I’m concerned with the bigger picture of, you know, between the water and sewage here, it sounds pretty scary and neglected for a long time,” said Victoria Park resident Adam Sloane.

“There are places you normally would go to enjoy, to walk your dog or walk with your family, ride, jog, and you can’t do that when there’s a stench in the air,” said Berman, “and there’s all these work trucks that are messing up people’s yards and, you know, in the way.”

Meanwhile, city officials said they are making plans for permanent replacements.

“We’re looking at a couple of different options at this point. Obviously, we want to get the line back in service,” said City Manager Chris Lagerbloom. “After we do that, then we’ll look at whether or not it makes sense to repair a larger segment.”

The costly fixes will not happen quickly, leaving area residents frustrated and wondering where a pipe might break next.

“And it’s gonna happen in my neighborhood; I live over in Coral Ridge,” said area resident Susan Klap. “You know, they’re just building and building. I mean, how many toilets are being flushed every day?”

“It’s going to keep going north, and it’s going to keep breaking and actually impact my home, more so than it is now,” said Berman.

“I can’t imagine it stopping. It sounds like it’s a problem that’s going to be around for a while,” said Sloane.

Officials urge residents to avoid contact with any standing water or any area affected by the spill that has not been cleaned up yet.

The next informational meeting will be held at Rio Vista Church at 2 p.m., Sunday.

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