Hialeah’s water plant is inundated with problems

Hialeah’s water plant, located just east of I75 at Northwest 138 Street.
Hialeah’s water plant, located just east of I75 at Northwest 138 Street. el Nuevo Herald

City of Hialeah documents released last month have revealed that the most recent evaluation of the city’s water plant came to a sudden end due to an open-air acid water leak.

The evaluation, which was interrupted by the leakage, was scheduled to conclude at the end of October and its results were to determine if the water plant is fit to distribute water in Hialeah and in Miami-Dade County.

According to a report sent by Hialeah’s Director of Public Works Armando Vidal to William Johnson, Miami-Dade’s Water and Sewage director, the leak took place on Oct. 20 when biological filters in the plant failed.

However, the document stated that the filters’ failure was fixed and that three days later, testing in the water plant resumed. Vidal said last week that testing in the water plant would finish on Nov. 7.

A source with knowledge about the case provided el Nuevo Herald with several photographs of the water leakage that took place in the $100 million-dollar facility.

Moises Pariente, manager of Inima, the company in charge of the project’s operation, declined to comment on the issue.

El Nuevo Herald revealed Monday that Inima also built a water treatment facility in Brockton, Massachusetts, which faced countless problems ranging from delays in obtaining construction permits to the detection of harmful bacterias in 2010.

The construction of the plant in Hialeah was propelled by former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina’s administration and cost $100 million. Half of the project was financed by Miami-Dade County funds and the other half was financed by debt bonds belonging to the city.

A previous report put together by Vidal in August, revealed a number of failures in an evaluation of the quality of water in Hialeah’s water treatment facility. El Nuevo Herald reported on the case and for the first time Mayor Carlos Hernandez revealed his frustration over the project. He explained that the plant was not distributing water because it hadn’t been approved by health authorities yet.

The report delineated, for instance, that at the beginning of July the water plant experienced a large scale mechanical failure in one of its pumps. Days later, the plant suffered another setback because of a thunderstorm. The mechanical failures affected the biological filter systems. Aside from all of these issues, the results of some of the tests held at the plant detected the presence of coliform bacterias in the water causing hopes for distribution to dissipate.

The latest report indicates that on Sept. 11, a chemical leakage took place in the plant. Disinfection of the spilled material was performed five days later.

The report revealed that during water treatment operations, three pumps were still experiencing excessive vibrations and high temperatures. Because of this, authorities planned to hire a specialist who could examine these problems. According to the document, Inima agreed to pay for the specialist’s services.

The report goes on to state that the lab tests performed at the beginning of October showed that the quality of the water at the plant met all the standards established in the contract.

The report also indicated that Inima and the City of Hialeah have an on going dispute over the claim of fines by municipal authorities. According to Vidal, Inima must pay a penalty of $10,000 a day for failing to comply with efficiently running the plant by the dates specified in the contract.

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