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Miami-Dade’s Largest Sewage Treatment Plant Undergoes $216 Million Upgrade

by Anna

Miami-Dade County’s major sewage treatment plant, located on vulnerable Virginia Key, is set to undergo a $216 million upgrade, aiming to fortify the facility against sea-level rise and reduce the dumping of treated wastewater into the Atlantic Ocean.

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The wastewater treatment plant on Virginia Key has long been susceptible to the impacts of sea-level rise, and the upgrade includes measures to make crucial components of the plant more resilient against rising sea levels. The project also incorporates state-of-the-art diesel generators to ensure the plant’s functionality during storms and additional capacity to handle increased wastewater flow resulting from the county’s transition from septic tanks to sewer systems.

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The upgrade is a pivotal move for Miami-Dade County as it strives to meet the state requirement by 2025 to significantly reduce the discharge of treated wastewater into the ocean. In 2008, Florida mandated that counties must almost entirely cease dumping partially treated sewage water into the ocean by 2025, in addition to reducing nutrient-dense discharges and achieving a wastewater reuse target of at least 60% by the same year.

According to Roy Coley, director of the county’s water and sewer department, Miami-Dade still disposes of approximately half of its treated wastewater into the ocean, amounting to around 150 million gallons daily. The treated water meets certain standards but contains higher nutrient levels than considered ideal for the surrounding ecosystem.

The upgrade project includes the development of additional injection wells at the Virginia Key plant, aligning with the county’s strategy to divert treated wastewater underground. Furthermore, the initiative focuses on significantly increasing water reuse, with plans to expand treated wastewater use for cooling machinery at wastewater plants.

Miami-Dade aims to dramatically boost water reuse from about 15 million gallons a day to approximately 100 million gallons a day, contributing to meeting state water reuse goals. The treated wastewater will be employed for cooling purposes before being injected underground via injection wells, replacing the use of clean drinking water from the aquifer.

The upgrade project at the Virginia Key plant is scheduled for completion by 2028, contributing to Miami-Dade’s efforts to fulfill state requirements related to water reuse and ocean dumping reduction. The county is striving to accelerate its efforts to achieve these goals by 2025, addressing environmental concerns and enhancing the sustainability of wastewater management practices. The recent groundbreaking marks a significant milestone in the journey toward a more resilient and environmentally conscious Miami-Dade County.

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