Palm Beach County Chapter Assists in Victory Over Sewage Outfall
The sewage treatment plant in Delray Florida, sending an average of 13 million gallons of partly treated wastewater onto endangered corals and reef tract, will now be the first outfall of six in South Florida to discontinue the practice dumping over the next few years.
Thursday night the utility board members made the vote to make the outfall pipe carrying the waste of Delray and Boynton Beach residents to go out of regular use. The decision also represented a major step toward a resolution of the plant's 18-month-long expired permit in the face of mounting public resistance and criticism from county environmental officials.
The decision was the culmination of a four-year struggle led by the nonprofit Palm Beach County Reef Rescue and more recently the assistance of the Palm Beach County Surfrider Chapter to draw attention to the effects of the outfall on the nearby coral reef system, which has been suffocating in recent years under a pollution-fed toxic algae bloom. Local member Kerri Smith lead the campaign overseeing legal research, outreach and education.
The chapter is also deciding whether or not to pursue local Rep. Richard Machek volunteering to present a legislative bill to limit the amount of potentially algae-feeding nitrogen that is discharged through the 5 other pipes.
While the proposed alternative for the plant to use a deep well injection to dispose of more highly treated waste is not ideal, it is the lesser of two evils at this juncture. There is ongoing research as to how to eliminate the use of deep well injection as well and the chapter will be moving forward by implementing an education program for this at the Sandoway House education center in Delray.
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