Sewage outlet

Even before Hurricane Irma, the City of Miami Beach flooded frequently. That’s because sea levels have risen enough that during high tides, the water seeps up, and floods the ground … even on sunny days.

As the water rises, it picks up waste from leaky sewers, pipes and septic tanks. When the contaminated water runs into the stormwater system, it runs directly into Biscayne Bay.

Henry Briceño is at Florida International University. During very high tides, his team tested the water for indicators of fecal bacteria and found some samples that contained more than 600 times the state limits. Much of it was from human waste.

Some water samples contained more than 600 times the state limits. Click To Tweet

Briceño: “For some waters, like some of these coastal waters, you shouldn’t have more than 35 what they call colony-forming units. In some instances we measured over 20,000 colony-forming units.”

There’s concern the flooding is going to get worse as seas continue to rise. Studies show it could be an almost daily occurrence in Miami-Dade County by mid-century. So BriceƱo says improving the wastewater system could help protect local communities.

Reporting credit: Justyna Bicz/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Topics: Oceans, Weather Extremes