Pumps Don't Pollute

At last week's Miami Beach sea level rise forum, the slogan above was printed on banners. 
According to Miami Beach, "pumps don't pollute, people do". 

This week I had breakfast with the retired MB engineer in charge of building 22 pump stations with injection wells (that don't contaminate) across the city. 

He was eager to share information about our current story-water design after speaking with DERM, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and the South Florida Water Management District -- being bounced from agency to agency with no real explanation for the contamination many residents see with their own eyes!

I learned that each pump station covers 60 acres of land, which means that all the dirt and gooky grime from 60 acres of streets is discharged into the bay from each pump.

In neighboring Bal Harbour, pump station water quality is preserved by using injection wells. Not all storm-water can be pumped underground, but injection wells can absorb the first 1.5 inches of black contaminated water, cleaning the streets, so that ensuing water pumped into the bay is cleaner. 
 
In Miami Beach, many of our pumps inject nothing underground. The 25 pumps built in the last five years discharge 1500 acres of dirty storm-water, unfiltered, into Biscayne Bay. Miami Beach uses a system called "Defender" which eliminates large objects, but does nothing to filter bacteria and other chemicals.

How can this be, you say? How does DERM allow us to shamelessly discharge our dirty water into Biscayne Bay?

Apparently, a former city engineer (dismissed after the Indian Creek debacle) convinced DERM that injection wells were hopeless because of sea level rise, and DERM granted the permits. If injection wells worked with gravity, they would be affected by sea level rise, but they don't--they pump water into the ground below the Biscayne Aquifer.

The blatant pump polluting of Biscayne Bay began in 2015 and by 2016 this was verified when an FIU professor found high levels of fecal matter in the bay after testing water quality. The city has yet to rectify the situation. Residents continue to send the administration videos of the contamination, yet there is never an explanation. 

This campaign will focus on improving water quality and adding injection wells or filters to current pump stations. 

As we speak, dirty, smelly, mucky water is being pumped into our bay. We should email county commissioner Eileen Higgins and ask questions. Contact the head of DERM, Lee Hefty, and ask him if he believes the "Defender" system is effective. We must demand the revocation of polluting pump permits until they are outfitted with filters or injection wells. 

In February this year, the Miami Herald reported that the seagrass was dead. 

I invite the city administration defending this system for a swim in an outfall like the one shown above. If they are willing to jump in and swim around, then maybe I would believe them.

As humans, we have a choice, but the creatures of Biscayne Bay--they don't--they depend on us.

We can make a difference---we just have to care.

You Friend, 

Kristen


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