Environment

Is something in the air at Miami’s art fairs? Might be a sewage spill

Muralist Cloe Hakakian spray paints her art on the side of a building as the Wynwood neighborhood prepares for the annual Art Basel art fair on Dec. 03, 2018, in Miami. Artists and art lovers from around the world flock to the Miami area from Dec. 6 to the 9th to visit Art Basel as well as the satellite galleries that pop up throughout the city during the week.
Muralist Cloe Hakakian spray paints her art on the side of a building as the Wynwood neighborhood prepares for the annual Art Basel art fair on Dec. 03, 2018, in Miami. Artists and art lovers from around the world flock to the Miami area from Dec. 6 to the 9th to visit Art Basel as well as the satellite galleries that pop up throughout the city during the week. Getty Images

Update: On Thursday warnings against swimming, boating and fishing in Biscayne Bay between the Venetian and Julia Tuttle causeways near Miami were lifted after water testing showed no elevated levels of pollution from the sewage spill.

Something may stink around the Miami art fairs over the next day or so — and it’s not the art.

A construction contractor broke a 16-inch sewage pipe Tuesday, spilling just over 9,200 gallons of poopy waste at the corner of Northeast Second Avenue and 30th Street and into storm drains that flush into Biscayne Bay. It’s not clear how much washed into the bay, said Water and Sewer Department spokeswoman Jennifer Messemer-Skold, but the risk prompted officials to issue warnings against swimming, boating or fishing in waters between the Venetian and Julia Tuttle causeways.

“It’s an over-abundance of caution,” she said. “We do this because we are always going to err on the side of caution for the public health,” she said.

sewer spill map.PNG

Within about an hour of being notified about the break, Miami-Dade County sewer workers arrived at the site, stopped the leak and vacuumed up some of the spill, she said.

The spill occurred on the opening day of Miami’s big art week. Art Basel, the main attraction, occurs across the bay at Miami Beach’s convention center, beyond the warning area, but satellite fairs have made Wynwood and Midtown busy side destinations. Art Miami, the main satellite fair that until last year was staged just west of the spill, also dodged what could have been an artsy fartsy mess: the show is now being held at the former bayfront home of the Miami Herald, south of the Venetian Causeway.

Results from water sampling are expected later Wednesday, Messemer-Skold said. Waters won’t be given the all-clear until two consecutive days of testing show no signs of elevated levels of fecal matter.

Follow Jenny Staletovich on Twitter @jenstaletovich

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