Boca Raton investing $750M to prevent Fort Lauderdale-level water main crisis

Workers trying to repair water main break in Ft. Lauderdale back in July (WPEC)

It’s been nearly seven months since a water main broke in Fort Lauderdale, sending the city into chaos as thousands scrambled for water.

Miles away, in Boca Raton, city officials were watching – and they had already begun strategizing how to prevent a similar crisis.

Last year, the city kicked off a $750 million spending project to upgrade the aging infrastructure. That budget will stretch over the next 15 years, with the city spending $15 million each year.

Mayor Scott Singer spoke with CBS12 News on Wednesday to discuss the city’s big spending plan, which he says will not rely on tax increases.

“A lot of people don’t think about what’s below ground until there’s a problem,” Singer said. “Thankfully, we’re trying to avoid as many problems as we can.”

Mayor Singer says problems like the ones in Fort Lauderdale are not surprising since cities across the country are dealing with aging infrastructure.

“What you’re seeing in the city south of us is emblematic of what other cities are going through,” Mayor Singer said.

To prevent the types of issues Fort Lauderdale is still plagued with, the city of Boca Raton is taking on old pipes beneath major roadways Boca Raton Blvd.

“We have infrastructure that dates back decades,” Singer said. “We can’t prevent every single problem, but we do our best to anticipate, prevent and contain if there are any problems.”

City teams are using innovative technology like underground cameras and sensors to anticipate these problems and identify weak spots.

“We know the age of our pipes as do other cities, but one thing we’re doing is using new technology to see if the expected wear is turning out to be what is, or if certain pipes and projects need to be accelerated,” Singer said.