The City of Fort Lauderdale appointed an advisory committee known as the Infrastructure Task Force Committee (ITFC) pursuant to Resolution 17-46 adopted on 7 March 2017. I am proud to have been selected by the City Commission as one (1) of the nine (9) ITFC Members. Our objectives will be to review and examine the condition and needs of the City’s aging infrastructure, the timetable for their repair and replacement as well as the associated cost and financing alternatives for same. The City’s existing infrastructure includes, but not limited to: roads, bridges, sidewalks, airports, seawalls, stormwater drainage, wellfields, water transmission/distribution mains, wastewater collection systems, treatment plants, parks and all City facilities and structures.
The ITFC has been reviewing various City master plan reports on bridges; canal dredging; stormwater; water and wastewater including reports on sidewalks and road pavement to help acquaint themselves with the aforementioned infrastructures. Most of the master plan reports were prepared several years ago making them somewhat outdated. The City indicated they are currently updating their utility atlas water; wastewater and stormwater drainage maps to include the pipe diameter size; type of pipe material and dates when installed. Although this information will not be completed in time to be fully utilized by the ITFC in locating; quantifying and estimating costs for these deteriorated utility systems, it will ultimately be helpful to both City Operations Personnel and contractors who will need to know this information prior to repairing and replacing these failing systems.
The wastewater gravity collection sewer system appears to be in the worst condition with respect to the other City’s utility systems. The number of failed wastewater gravity sewer collection mains allows an enormous amount of groundwater and sand to enter into the submerged sewer system 24/7. The groundwater not only contributes to greater flows combined with the wastewater to be treated at the wastewater treatment plants, but the sand impedes the flows inside of the collection mains. The sand also creates a path of destruction when it reaches the wastewater pump stations where it grinds down the pump impeller blades reducing the pumping performance and volume into the force mains resulting in longer pump run times. Once the sand enters into the force mains, the sand erodes the inside walls of the pipe, especially at the bends where the flow direction changes. When a force main ultimately fails, there is a catastrophic effect when the roads and swales are turned into a large sink hole. This is further compounded by the raw wastewater material inundating and spewing over the above ground areas with hazardous unhealthy hydrogen sulfide (H2S) odor requiring special clean-up biohazard crews to dispose and neutralize these affected areas. These wastewater gravity sewer collection mains need to be repaired or replaced immediately, including cleaning the sand out of the systems to reduce the continued costly destruction of the entire wastewater system along with reducing the cost of treating groundwater at the wastewater treatment plants.
Residents are invited to attend and participate at these ITFC Meetings generally held on the 8th floor at City Hall scheduled from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. on the first Monday of each month. The next meeting has been rescheduled from 4 September 2017 to 28 August 2017 because of the Labor Day Holiday. If you wish to attend these meetings, please check with the City’s website or customer service at 954-828-8000 to verify the meeting location/date/time.
Ralph Zeltman, Board of Directors