‘Fix our infrastructure’: Fort Lauderdale residents protest sewage leak fallout

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A Fort Lauderdale community came out in force to protest city officials’ handling of the six sewer line breaks that wreaked havoc in their neighborhoods.

It’s been more than a month since the ruptures plagued the East Fort Lauderdale area. On Sunday, residents came together to demand action and accountability from City Hall.

7News cameras captured protesters on the grounds of Colee Hammock Park and in the water along the New River.

A flotilla drew people of all ages, as demonstrators cheered and held up signs of various sizes.

Resident Kevin Cochrane said it’s imperative that community leaders commit to more than just cleaning up and patching the ruptured pipes.

“The core message is very simple: fix our infrastructure, protect our waters,” he said. “We need it, and we need it now.”

More than 300 million gallons of raw sewage spilled into yards, roadways and nearby waterways over the past month.

Protesters said there has been too much development but not enough care for aging infrastructure.

“You wonder, when is the next one gonna burst?” said demonstrator Debbie Wilson.

Protesters on dry land were just as passionate as the participants who voiced their displeasure on the water.

“I was born and raised here, and I’m still being raised here, and I pretty much live on the water,” said a demonstrator, “so, like, the activities that I want to do may include water, but I can’t do that now that the water is contaminated.”

Participants said holding the event along the New River was an important part of conveying their message, a message that could go far beyond Fort Lauderdale.

“Our environment here has been depleted for the last 10 to 20 years. The city has done nothing about it,” said protester Mike Lambrechts from the nonprofit Coastal Conservative Association Florida. “It is time for us as citizens to get together and step up and do something about it.”

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