Item Coversheet

New Business and Commission Requests - R9  T


TO:Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Commission 
FROM:Alina T. Hudak, City Manager 
DATE:March  27, 2023




The Administration recommends addressing the sources of bacteria impacting the Park View canal through a holistic action plan approach with the community.  As identified in the Water Quality Assessment completed by water quality expert Dr. Solo-Gabriele and her team, this includes addressing above ground, below ground, public, and private property sources throughout the broader North Beach area (Attachment A).  The Administration recommends funding the infrastructure improvements through the budget process and applying for grants to address the short, medium, and long-term actions.


Park View Canal water quality concerns and information have been discussed at the Land Use and Sustainability Committee in 2020 and 2021 and at the Public Safety and Neighborhood Quality of Life Committee on December 7, 2022.


In March 2020, there was a sanitary sewer main break in the parking lot at 72 Street and Collins Avenue. The City immediately issued a "No Contact Advisory," closed the kayak launch, and began water quality testing to identify impacts to the surrounding surface waters. Typically, following a sanitary sewer break, surrounding surface waters will continue to have high bacteria counts for a couple of days following the incident. However, the high bacteria levels found in the vicinity of 73 Street continued for many days following the sewage break repair. Further analysis of historical data collected since 2019 indicate that this waterway has chronically elevated bacteria levels.


The City has performed extensive investigations and has most recently been working with a water quality expert team from the University of Miami studying potential variable sources that are contributing to the bacteria in the waterway. The canal has public and private outfalls, with the public outfalls conveying stormwater from the broader North Beach area. The City has taken numerous actions and continues to evaluate any opportunity to address the ongoing challenge.


The Public Works and Environment and Sustainability Departments evaluated possible sources of cross-contamination in the area along with site specific conditions that could potentially negatively impact the area. Efforts to isolate potential sanitary sewer leaks have included multiple dye tests, deep cleaning of the stormwater lines, water quality testing throughout the stormwater system, sediment sampling in the canal, CCTV inspections, and smoke testing to determine potential illegal cross connections between private properties sewer lines and the City's stormwater system.


The City has also undergone advanced gene biomarker analysis to identify fecal indicators for humans, dogs, or birds at locations within the canal. The results at the time (2020 and 2021) indicated that fecal coliform from for dogs and birds were present at high concentrations in all samples. This led to a multi-tiered outreach campaign to educate the public about the importance of addressing pet waste. The City then retained ESciences, a third-party consultant specializing in environmental investigations, to conduct a thorough analysis of the data and investigations. Their results indicated more studies were necessary to draw conclusions in the data set as trends could not be identified.


In light of the continued elevated levels without a point source of pollution identified, the City procured the services of Dr. Solo-Gabriele, Associate Dean for the University of Miami College of Engineering who is a global water quality expert in evaluating microbes in water and sediments.  The City Commission ratified this emergency purchase. Dr. Solo-Gabriele conducted a four-month sampling study to help determine the geographic or point-source(s) of bacteria.  The community was kept advised about the study through City communication channels. 


The Assessment of Water Quality conducted by Dr. Solo-Gabriele outlined that rainfall is the main predictor of poor water quality within the canal. The unique characteristics of the waterway limit flushing as a shallow and narrow canal. The primary source of bacteria was identified as waste deposited on surfaces that drain toward the canal from the 81-acre catchment area to the east. The existing stormwater system in this area is gravity-based and rainwater picks-up pollutants on land, enters catch basins, and exits outfalls untreated. North Beach is densely populated, and the University of Miami team identified many sources contributing to degraded water quality including exotic and feral animal feces, the homeless population, dog waste, litter, and leaking dumpsters in commercial areas. In addition, the aging sanitary sewer system cannot be discounted as it is in need of upgrades and is located near the stormwater conveyance system.  Even though testing led by the Public Works Department has not indicated significant deficiencies such as a major break, there is possibility of leakage not identified through the infrastructure testing due the age of the system and private connections.  


In addition to the infrastructure testing performed, staff from several Departments have worked to address many of the above ground findings. Sanitation performs weekly street sweeping and twice daily garbage can collection on Park View Island, Code Compliance performs daily sweeps of the area, and Homeless Outreach and Community Services performs dedicated outreach to homeless individuals.


Infrastructure Improvements


In light of the Assessment of Water Quality report, staff has developed an action plan that combines the study recommendations with actions that include both funded and unfunded items (Attachment B). A summary of infrastructure-based items likely to have the most significant impact are highlighted below.


Short-Term Recommendations

· Line aging wastewater pipes to prevent exfiltration (in progress), replace air release valves in North Beach (in progress), and work with DERM to install manhole smart covers to detect rising levels before overflows occur. Lining is currently funded for Park View Island for $338,227. Additional lining will be needed outside of the North Shore D/ Town Center project.  Sampling efforts are underway to evaluate potential positive impact to the canal.

· Identify additional way to address litter and waste in the waterway and vicinity.  

· Install manhole smart covers to detect rising levels before overflows occur. This effort is being funded by Miami-Dade County as part of a countywide effort.



Mid-Term Recommendations

· Retrofit existing gravity stormwater system with water quality treatment devices within the vicinity of the canal such as bar racks to prevent litter from entering the waterway. The estimated cost for this is $2.2 million, with $200K in FY24 and $2M in FY25. 

· Dredge the waterway to improve flushing and remove contaminated sediment with the canal. The Environment & Sustainability Department currently has $500K in funding to complete initial surveys required for dredging (bathymetric and geotechnical), but funding would need to be identified to complete design, permitting, and completion of a dredging project. Dredging of the canal is estimated to cost $2M in FY24/25.


Long-Term Recommendations

· The North Beach Town Center Improvements will include new design and replacement of the stormwater and sanitary sewer infrastructure in the catchment area; this would include outfall relocations and water quality treatment pump stations.  The City was awarded $10 million in Resilient Florida funding towards the design. The project is called North Shore D/ Town Center with This is estimated at $137M, with $19.5M in FY25 and $104M in FY27.


In addition, Public Works and Environment & Sustainability staff have sought grant funding for enhanced hybrid living shorelines to complement North Beach Town Center improvements and will continue to seek funding for initiatives that align with the goals of improving water quality and the quality of life for residents.



In the 2022 Community Satisfaction Survey, 35% of residents were satisfied with the cleanliness of canals and waterways.  When rating the importance of city services, waterway cleanliness ranked sixth.


FY23: Funded

  • Surveys required for dredging $500K
  • Lining wastewater pipes Park View Island $338,227


FY24: Unfunded

  • Retrofit gravity stormwater treatment $200K


FY25: Unfunded

  • Retrofit gravity stormwater treatment $2M
  • Dredge Canal $2M
  • Design/Replacement of stormwater/sanitary sewer $19.5M


FY27: Unfunded

  • Design/Replacement of stormwater/sanitary sewer $104M



The Administration continues to evaluate and address potential sources of bacteria impacting the canal through a holistic approach with the community.  As identified in the Water Quality Assessment, this includes addressing above ground, below ground, public, and private property sources throughout the broader North Beach area.  

As discussed in the FY 2023 Capital Budget process, It is important to note that the City’s five-year capital improvement plan includes $1.6 billion in unfunded needs, which will be further discussed in the upcoming FY 2024 budget process.

Applicable Area

Is this a "Residents Right to Know" item, pursuant to City Code Section 2-14? Does this item utilize G.O. Bond Funds?
Yes No 

Strategic Connection

Environment & Infrastructure - Work regionally and nationally to protect Biscayne Bay water quality and to maintain a healthy dune and beach system.
Legislative Tracking
Environment and Sustainability
Commissioner Alex Fernandez

Park View Canal Report
Park View Canal Action Plan