An aged 30-inch pipe that burst at MM 92 in Tavernier on March 9. FKAA/Contributed

Keys residents and visitors are witnessing improved water pressure coming out of the faucets after several breaks earlier in the month caused a decrease in the flow. 

While water tanks are at acceptable levels, the millions of gallons pumping through the aged pipes were reduced in hopes to avoid another major break. 

Conserve water requests remain on message boards along U.S. 1 and on FKAA’s website following three transmission line breaks in the Upper Keys over a three-day span in early to mid-March. Greg Veliz, FKAA executive director, said the breaks weren’t an isolated incident — it’s the reality of a transmission line reaching the end of its life as more water flowed through the pipes ever since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Veliz said some 25 million gallons of water were pumping through the pipes each day. FKAA has since reduced that to 22 million gallons a day. 

“We believe that this will help us stay in operation far longer than running wide open (at 25 million gallons),” Veliz said. 

The first break occurred across from Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina at MM 84.5 in Islamorada on March 8. Repair crews battled intense sun and heat to repair an aged pipe. 

Just when that repair finished, a second break occurred roughly seven miles north at MM 92 in Tavernier. The break was worse than the first one, Veliz said, as northbound lanes of U.S. 1 were shut down to allow for the placement of new pipe. Crews worked some 30 hours between the first two breaks. 

A third break occurred at the scene of the first break at MM 84.5 in Islamorada during the evening hours of March 11. That break was eventually fixed, but water pressure remained low, from Islamorada as far south as Key West. 

Pipe breaks in the Upper Keys occurred as FKAA embarks on a 4-mile, $42-million water main replacement project from Tea Table Relief at MM 79 to Whale Harbor at MM 84. Excavation work is slated for April to place new 36-inch water main transmission alongside U.S. 1.

Jim McCarthy is one of the many Western New Yorkers who escaped the snow and frigid temperatures for warm living by the water. A former crime & court reporter and city editor for two Western New York newspapers, Jim has been honing his craft since he graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 4-plus years in the Keys, Jim has enjoyed connecting with the community. “One of my college professors would always preach to be curious,” he said. “Behind every person is a story that’s unique to them, and one worth telling. As writers, we are the ones who paint the pictures in the readers minds of the emotions, the struggles and the triumphs.” Jim is past president of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club, which is composed of energetic members who serve the community’s youth and older populations. Jim is a sports fanatic who loves to watch football, hockey, mixed martial arts and golf. He also enjoys time with family and his new baby boy, Lucas, who arrived Oct. 4, 2022.