A no-swim advisory is in effect at Key Biscayne and Virginia Key beaches after millions of gallons of treated wastewater overflowed from the Miami-Dade County sewage plant on Virginia Key, officials said.
The Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department said the wastewater had been chlorinated, but that the swimming restrictions were being put into place in an abundance of caution. The discharge was blamed on a temporary power outage that struck around 10:15 p.m. Saturday at the Ocean Outfall Pump Station, the department said.
It’s not clear how much of the three million gallons of effluent flowed into offshore waters, said Jennifer Messemer-Skold, a department spokesperson. Workers used vacuum trucks to remove much of the wastewater from the ground, but a portion of the spill entered Shrimper’s Lagoon. Normally, the treated wastewater is pumped a mile and half offshore into the Atlantic Ocean, but the power failure caused the system to back up.
The no-swim warnings are also posted for Fisher Island.
The department said the no-swim advisory will remain in effect until two consecutive days of clear testing.
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.