About 3050 m offshore from Hollywood, Florida at a depth of about 28.5 m you’ll find the Hollywood Sewage Outfall. The outfall consists of a single port discharge pipe with a port diameter of 1.52 m. The permitted discharge of the Hollywood outfall is 47.5 million gallons per day which is the combined permitted flow from Hollywood, Cooper City and Davie Wastewater Treatment Plants. This is the largest sewage outfall into the ocean left in Florida.
Six wastewater treatment facilities in South Florida have been discharging an average of about 360 million gallons per day of treated wastewater to the ocean for decades through outfall pipes located 1 to 3 miles offshore. Today only three local governments in Florida use ocean outflows: Miami-Dade and Broward counties, and Hollywood. Collectively, they pump about 71 billion gallons of treated sewage into the ocean each year.
The Florida Senate has passed a bill that would shut down these ocean outfalls by 2025. Delray beach outfall was the first to shut off the sewage outfall flow on March 31 2009 – after actually having continued for a time without a permit (according to Dan Clark of Cry of The Water). Cry of the Water along with Reef Rescue and numerous environmental groups have worked for over 10 years to end the discharge of inadequately treated sewage onto our reefs. Florida Governor Charlie Crist signed the outfall legislation at the International Coral Reef Symposium in Ft. Lauderdale on July 7, 2008.
But already there are certain political moves that try to amend the law by allowing as much as 5% of the annual treated sewage flow into the ocean, but only during “peak flow events” like when flooding is likely following a hurricane.You can read more about that in the article from April 17 2013 copied from Miami Herald here.
Sewage contains higher levels of nitrogen, ammonia and other contaminants that are widely believed to promote algae blooms and disease in coral communities. As coral formations die off, fish, lobsters and sea turtles lose critical habitat.
Although the outfalls are not emitting untreated sewage, but treated sewage and some claims that if you poured wastewater effluent from a plant with secondary treatment into a glass, in most cases it would be hard to tell it from drinking water, the sight you meet when visiting the Hollywood Sewage Outfall certainly leaves a different impression.
To get a good idea of the issues at hand with the sewage outflow please see the video below which explains it very well. Please excuse the quality and the sound.
Project Baseline Gulfstream has made the Hollywood Sewage Outfall one of their monitoring sites to be monitored over time.