Miami-Dade County launches Connect 2 Protect septic to sewer conversion program
Connect 2 Protect is a multi-year, countywide program aimed at addressing vulnerable or failing septic tank systems that impact the public’s health, private property, and the environment
On the shore of Biscayne Bay during a perfect South Florida “winter” day, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava launched Connect 2 Protect, a multi-year, countywide program to provide sanitary sewer service to residents with septic tanks systems.
With approximately 120,000 septic tank systems still in use in Miami-Dade County, 9,000 septic tank systems are vulnerable to compromise or failure under current groundwater conditions. As sea-level rise increases, this number will grow to approximately 13,500 by 2040. Compromised and failing septic tank systems can cause public health risks, negative impacts on private properties and impacts on the local environment – including Biscayne Bay.
“Today, we broke ground on our first septic-to-sewer conversion project, the first of many that will help us build a cleaner, healthier and more resilient Miami-Dade for the future. Through Connect 2 Protect, we will help thousands of Miami-Dade residents and business owners with their connection to our sewer system to protect their homes, businesses, and way of life in the coming years,” said Mayor Levine Cava. “This is more than just a public works project. It is a significant step toward mitigating the effects of climate change on our County, and part of a more substantial effort to modernize and improve County services to all our residents.”
The first phase of this program in the Little River Adaptation Action Area begins along Northeast 87 Street and Northeast Bayshore Drive and will connect 40 residential parcels, which are mainly coastal properties. The next stage starts in March 2023, when 330 properties in the Larchmont community will begin the process of retiring their septic tank systems and connecting to newly constructed County sewer infrastructure.
The Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department (WASD) received grant funding from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection that will be used exclusively in the Little River Adaptation Action Area to help cover the remaining costs based on nutrient pollution reductions and economic need. Little River is one of the first areas for Connect 2 Protect implementation based on its designation as an Adaptation Action Area, a designation that focuses on those communities most vulnerable to sea-level rise and flooding.
“Much of the Little River area is low-lying and prone to flooding,” said WASD Director Roy Coley. “Residents report that septic tank systems are failing during heavy rain and high tide events, which has resulted in sewage backing up into homes and the ponding of floodwater on lawns and roadways. With the implementation of Connect 2 Protect, we will be able to provide residents with reliable wastewater removal services, improving the quality of life within these communities and safeguarding the environment, as well. I look forward to working with these new customers and providing them with excellent customer service.”
It will take many years for Connect 2 Protect to be fully executed. However, those continuing to be served by septic tank systems can aid in minimizing nutrient impacts to our groundwater and local waterways by properly maintaining their systems, according to Miami-Dade County’s Regulatory and Economic Resources Department (RER) – a department that also provides a vital role in this plan’s roll-out.
“The creation and adoption of the Little River Adaptation Action Area, where this critical program is being launched, is an example of how Miami-Dade County is innovatively and comprehensively addressing the issue of coastal flooding and sea-level rise in a proactive manner within our community,” said RER Director Lourdes Gomez. “The Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources is honored to be a part of this program, to further our mission of building resilience and protecting our natural resources.”
For more information about the Connect 2 Protect septic to sewer conversion, please visit WASD’s new program page at www.miamidade.gov/connect2protect.
It is the priority of the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department to provide safe, reliable service to its customers. For additional information about Department services and programs, visit the department’s website.