HomeNewsEnvironmentRecord rain causes sewage overflow, closing swimming areas and snarling traffic

Record rain causes sewage overflow, closing swimming areas and snarling traffic

Record rain from a stalled stationary front caused 200,000 gallons of sewage to overflow on Virginia Key Monday, prompting no-swim advisories for all Key Biscayne beaches. The rain slowed rush-hour traffic on Key Biscayne, causing miles-long backups as motorists drove through extended ponds of overflowing water adjacent to Crandon Park. 

The National Weather Service said a record 5.56 inches of rain fell yesterday through this morning, setting a 24-hour November record. Locally, 3.76 inches of rain fell on Virginia Key in a 90-minute period from 5:30 to 7:00 pm Sunday, with a high tide falling at 6 p.m.

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“Wow,” said Brian McNoldy, a meteorologist at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science. “A perfectly timed deluge to maximize flooding.” 

County officials constructed berms to contain the wastewater at the Central District plant, a news release said. Staff was able to recapture most of the spill, but the County said 10,000 gallons entered Shrimper’s Lagoon adjacent to the plant. 

A no-swim advisory was posted for Virginia Key Beach and Outdoor Center, Crandon Beach, Key Biscayne Beach, and Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. The public was advised to avoid other water recreational activities such as fishing and boating in areas under the no-swim advisory.

Inside the village, there were no reports of problems, said Fire Rescue Chief Eric Lang. However, additional rain is forecast and the Weather Service warned that additional flooding is likely. 

Jennifer Messemer-Skold, a spokeswoman for the Water and Sewer Department, urged residents to reduce water consumption during peak times and to refrain from popping manhole covers to alleviate flooding. Removing the covers just “kicks the can” and cause additional overflows. 

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Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.

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