Raw sewage spills into Fort Lauderdale neighborhood after pipe rupture

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Residents are still waiting for crews to clean up a mess after a sewage pipe broke in Fort Lauderdale, a day ago, spilling filth into the streets surrounding their homes.

City officials said a 54-inch sewer pipe burst near the 900 block of Ponce De Leon Drive, at around 11 a.m., Tuesday.

The spill led residents in the Rio Vista neighborhood to suffer from the smell for over an entire day.

Wednesday, crews continue to work to remove thousands of gallons of raw sewage from the streets.

“It’s bad. They’re cleaning it as fast as they can,” said one resident.

Beth and Strawn French’s home was completely surrounded by raw sewage.

“All of a sudden, the water was rushing,” said Beth French.

“It was within 10 minutes that it flooded this entire area,” said Strawn.

“It’s just very nasty and really smelly,” said Beth.

7SkyForce HD flew over the scene where the spillage could be seen filling the streets and driveways in the area.

City officials said the leak may have been caused by fatigue in the pipe, which has been in place since the 1970s.

“We’re aware that we need to replace it. The city commission has already approved the project. It was just a matter of getting to it,” said Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis. “Unfortunately, the pipe broke before we could get to it.”

The spill began with just water, and then the smell accompanied it shortly after.

“You would smell it, and it didn’t stop,” said Beth.

Puddles of the raw effluent could be seen in Hector Park.

The spill is believed to have leaked into the Intracoastal Waterway.

“We’ve had water problems here before where these storm sewers are overflowing, but it’s never been this bad,” said Beth.

While residents wait for the sewage to recede, they worry about the Tarpon River that houses marine life.

“We did try to contact the marine people because it was dumping into the Tarpon River here, so that was pretty ugly,” said Beth.

“Well, it’s obviously terrible, and it can’t be good for the ocean, so that would only hurt our Intracoastal Waterways even more,” said one resident.

“Things happen sometimes, and no one can control it,” said one resident. “They responded really fast and professionally, and I think they’re going to stay here until it’s cleaned up.”

City officials held a press conference at 5 p.m., Tuesday.

“We are mobilizing all of our available city resources and have called upon additional resources to respond to the situation,” said Trantalis. “This will enable our crews to identify the exact location of the break, which we have so far and to assess the size and scope of the damage, which we have yet to do.”

Crews are now challenged with cleaning the mess from the streets and lawns, using pumps to clear the strong smelling water into the nearby Tarpon River. This means the river will not be able to be used in the meantime.

“Especially from this point eastward, we are trying to capture as much of the sewage water with our pump trucks,” said Trantalis, “but to the extent that that’s not possible, unfortunately, it’s going to go into the water system.”

City officials issued a no contact warning for the Tarpon River and a precautionary advisory for water activities in the New River and surrounding canals.

Officials said the water is still safe to consume, but advise residents in the area to avoid excessive use of flushing their toilets, using appliances like dishwashers or washing machines until the leak is capped.

Crews remained on the scene Wednesday morning.

For more information, please contact the City of Fort Lauderdale 24-Hour Customer Service Call Center at 954-828-8000 or www.fortlauderdale.gov/lauderserv

Copyright 2021 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.