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ENR (202) 616-2765 TDD (202) 514-1888
METRO DADE COUNTY WILL UPGRADE SEWAGE SYSTEM UNDER CLEAN WATER ACT AGREEMENT WITH U.S. WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Metropolitan Dade County, Florida, has agreed to spend over a half billion dollars to repair its sewage system whose deteriorated condition led to more than 3,000 spills of raw wastes into streets and waterways since 1990, the Department of Justice said today. The county, which includes Miami, also will pay a $2 million civil fine, the largest penalty ever paid by a local government under the Clean Water Act, and conduct local environmental programs valued at $5 million. The upgrade, whose total cost is estimated between $500 million and $800 million, was approved today by the Metropolitan Dade County Board of Commissioners to resolve federal claims against the county and its water department. Currently, the agreement is under review by the U.S. Attorney's office in Miami, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department, which expects to lodge a proposed consent decree in U.S. District Court in Miami in the near future. "Today's agreement will eliminate a serious public health threat to the citizens of Dade County while implementing measures to protect the environment," said Assistant Attorney General Lois Schiffer, head of the Environment and Natural Resource Division. Parties to the agreement are the United States, which represented the EPA, and the defendants: Metropolitan Dade County, the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Authority Department and the state of Florida. The defendants will spend $1 million of the $5 million in supplemental environmental projects to install water saving toilets and shower heads in the homes of qualified low-income families to conserve water, and spend $4 million to construct a wastewater treatment plant and pipeline to irrigate public areas with treated wastewater. They also are required to implement a number of long-term and short-term remedial measures so they can comply with the Clean Water Act on a permanent, consistent basis. These include a comprehensive program to repair, rehabilitate and upgrade the sewage collection system to identify and eliminate groundwater and storm water flows into their sewage system. They also must institute a program to inspect, repair and upgrade pump stations to ensure that each station can handle sewage flows. Failure to meet this term could result in the suspension of additional hook-ups to the system. The proposed consent decree also requires the defendants to enact an ordinance to require each Dade County municipality to institute the same remedial measures the defendants are required to institute under the proposed consent decree. In addition, the defendants must complete each of these measures pursuant to the schedules in the consent decree or be subject to significant penalties as stipulated in the decree. ##### 95-073