Friday, June 15, 2018

The crisis of October–November 2017: “Rains cause 1.2 million-gallon overflow at West Palm sewage plant”.


Following that plague of sewage last year from West Palm Beach as was reported by Palm Beach Post reporter Tony Doris (see below) then came more breaking news from Post reporter Kimberly Miller, “Icky brown waters off Palm Beach County concern tourism leaders”.
 

In October/November 2017 Palm Beach County
was in full-blown crisis mode.

Why? Because of an approaching hurricane? No. It was because of noticeably brown ocean water off the coast of Jupiter to Boca Raton and was especially evident off the beaches of the Town of Palm Beach. Tourism leaders sounded the alarm. Government leaders at the local and County level were demanding answers.

That this was all happening at the beginning of the tourism season couldn’t have possibly been worse timing. The fear was our annual migration of Snowbirds from the northeast and Canada would find somewhere else to go. Our entire Winter tourist season was on the brink of being severely impacted.

So the question is, what’s to stop this from happening again? This quote may provide some answers as we approach another tourism season later this year.

“A local newspaper is really a public trust, part of the fabric of the whole community. . . . The value of a local newspaper – a local watchdog with the resources to do real reporting on local government and issues — is greater today than ever.”
Timothy D. Burke, “Mission of Post, Shiny Sheet will not change” (both of these newspapers were sold to Gatehouse Media on May 1st this year).


Where did all that brown water come from the public wanted to know. There were theories.

As reported by Palm Beach Post reporter Tony Doris on Oct. 31st, 2017 in an article titled, “Rains cause 1.2 million-gallon overflow at West Palm sewage plant” was there a connection to the “Icky brown waters” off the beaches of Palm Beach County? In a Letter to the Editor that was published shortly afterward a resident of West Palm Beach wondered following the news report by Doris:

[D]oes this recent sewage spill have anything to do with last week’s health department closing of county beaches from Jupiter to Boca Raton, the entire Palm Beach County shoreline, due to elevated bacteria levels of “unknown” origin?


Here are two excerpts from Post reporter Kimberly Miller’s article datelined November 14th, two weeks after the news from Doris:

The topaz-blue waters off Palm Beach County have had more noticeably brown days this fall – an opaque sea of tea that is less inviting and even dangerous as high bacteria levels have forced a handful of temporary no-swimming orders.

and. . .

     “I’m seeing a polluted coastline from Jupiter to I don’t know how far south,” said Jack Corrick, a Singer Island resident. “Visitors are starting to come back and if people won’t go in the water, it would be a quick death for us.” [emphasis added]


Should the Town of Palm Beach be worried about the water supply and sewage spills?

Another question, should that town seriously consider getting its drinking water supply from the City of Lake Worth instead of from West Palm Beach? Below is another Letter to the Editor published in the Post following the news from Miller and Doris with the headline, “Sewage spill shows serious problem” written by Anne Kuhl of West Palm Beach:

Re: “Rain causes 1.2 million-gallon overflow at West Palm sewage plant” reporting that Tropical Storm Philippe caused a sewage spill of 1.2 million gallons at the West Palm Beach regional sewage treatment plant.
     With the sewage plant’s location off Roebuck Road just east of the Florida Turnpike and at the edge of the city’s main water supply, the Grassy Waters Preserve, the city’s wastewater operation appears to be a serious threat to its own public water supply. [emphasis added]
     With this major sewage spill and the sewage worker’s drowning death at this same plant, it would seem that all the millions of dollars the city has spent to stop the State Road 7 extension would be better spent repairing and improving their own sewage treatment plant. Instead, a city commissioner chooses to blame the spill on climate change.
     Additionally, I just have to wonder out loud, does this recent sewage spill have anything to do with last week’s health department closing of county beaches from Jupiter to Boca Raton, the entire Palm Beach County shoreline, due to elevated bacteria levels of “unknown” origin?


If this issue is of grave concern to you try contacting someone on the staff at the Post or take the time and write your own Letter to the Editor. Click on this link to learn how.