An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: Orange County, USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

Orlando’s secret life of sewers: What workers hope you never know

It turns out that what’s flushed from much of north Orlando takes a 35-mile trip through a colossal system that has been under construction for most of a century. The wastewater disperses nearly 33 days later as highly treated effluent into marsh, through the legs of wood storks and roseate spoonbills and then to an expanse of cordgrass and sable palms of the St. Johns River.

This year, Fort Lauderdale was shamed officially for letting its sewer perform as a sieve; the governor cracked down on “bad actors” by boosting fines for spills; a watchdog called out Orange County’s wastewater system as a flagrant offender; and Orlando sounded an alert for a smelly incident at its premier cultural park.

Florida has hundreds of private and public sewers. They are vital for protecting human health. They can be an asset or a villain in the struggle to heal sickly rivers and coastal waters. Sewage challenges will amplify with population growth and as rising sea levels drown sewers of coastal cities.