dump grinder pumps in lower Florida Keys and use gravity lines wherever possible because gravity systems are more environmentally friendly and cost less in the long run

septic_tank2.jpg

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Am hard-pressed for time, there might be a different post at www.goodmorningkeywest.com after I get back from Hatman’s constitutional law court motions to dismiss charges of lodging in his van in Key West, the come as you are not city.

That post went mid-afternoon today as homeless people not welcome in Key West, nor would be the homeless man Jesus … You should be able to see it by clicking on that link.

Meanwhile, lots of activity in grinder pump war yesterday, selected skirmishes follow.

Mother Nature

Mother Nature

County Commissioner Sylvia replied to my questions to her in yesterday’s post: Is she dating Kevin Wilson, has dated him recently?

Sylvia Murphy

“Sloan: To set your mind at rest I will happily answer your two questions and YES! You may print this word for word. NO, I am not dating, stepping out nor holding hands with Kevin Wilson and NO, I have not in the past done these things. I must admit, it gave me a huge laugh when I read that exchange on your blog several days ago and I thought, geez! some people need to get either a life, a job or a hobby. But anyway, thanks for the giggle……” Now Sloan, if you print this you must print every word in between the quotation marks….deal?

I replied:

Hi, Sylvia – Of course I will print every word of it. I wish you had let me know when you saw the allegation in an email someone sent to me, which I published; and I wish I had just picked up the phone and called you. Sloan

Kevin Wilson is the county employee in charge of implementing Cudjoe regional sewer plan.

Banks Prevatt, who is slated to get a grinder pump, sent out generally:

Deb,

The FKAA board meeting is Wednesday December 18 at 11:00 am. Locations is Board Room of the FKAA at 1100 Kennedy Dr, Key West. I feel the more we can get there the better.

The FKAA web site has two times. I called and was told the 11 o’clock time is correct.

If everyone can spread the word it will be helpful.

I will have some Dump the Pumps type posters and other visible info that people can hold.

I don’t know if we have time for t-shirts for this one, but we should for the BOCC meeting in January. There is a rumor that George Neugent may be trying to call a special meeting of the BOCC to address this before Jan 16. I am not sure where he is coming from, but we will see.

Banks

Excerpts from two earlier emails from County Commissioner David Rice to Anon Emus:

email 1:

I recently got a call from Dr. Brian LaPoint, a big pine homeowner and a world recognized scientist who’s work is focused on water quality issues in many different countries as well as the Keys. He has found the low pressure (grinder) system superior from an environmental standpoint. He pointed out that gravity must go deep into the ground, below water level.

When there is a leak, and he has found that all systems have leakage problems, the tidal action both causes saltwater intrusion into the system and causes sewage to leak directly into the water surrounding the line. Additionally, he points out there is no mechanism which indicates the presence of a leak, except that the plant operator may notice that the volume which is entering the plant increases, caused by the salt water entering the system. This apparently gives the operator no help in finding the leak for repair.

He states that in his consulting around the world, he highly recommends low pressure, which is installed above the water level, is very reliable, and gives an immediate notification of any leakage.

email 2:

I understand that your opinion on this subject differs from that of Brian, however I doubt if you are correct in assuming that he has changed his position since we last spoke. I last spoke to Brian on this subject yesterday.

Over the last ten years, I have learned a great deal. primarily what I have learned is that many people have strong feelings on the subject, however few of them agree with the others. I do not know your qualifications in this field, however it seems that you speak from a point of knowledge , as does Brian. Who is right? Anyone? No one ? Everyone?

I do not sense that their is anything approaching general agreement.

Happy Holidays,

David

Anon and Banks Prevatt both replied to David, copied to the rest of the county commissioners, that they did not believe Brian told David what David said Brian told him. Anon and David explained to David that shallow-buried high-pressure grinder pump sewage lines over time spring leaks and discharge raw sewage into the ground. Whereas, deep-buried low-pressure gravity sewage lines  spring leaks over time, but since they are buried in sea water, the outside water pressure is greater than the pressure in the gravity lines and no sewerage can escape because sea water is coming into the lines. Banks also explained to David that there is no way to detect where leaks are in grinder pump lines and they cannot be repaired therefore, but there is a way to detect where leaks are in gravity lines and they can be repaired.

Yesterday, Anon sent this to David Rice and the other county commissioners:

Date: Mon, 16 Dec 2013 20:43:45 -0500
Subject: Re: Fw: Re: Grinder pits in detail photos
From: rocketscienceeh@_____________
To: Rice-David@MonroeCounty-FL.Gov
CC: Carruthers-Heather@MonroeCounty-FL.gov; Kolhage-Danny@MonroeCounty-FL.gov; Murphy-Sylvia@MonroeCounty-FL.gov; Neugent-George@MonroeCounty-FL.gov

Well, David, there appears to be one whopping miscommunication here.

I was awakened just before midnight last night so that the very agitated assistant friend of Dr. Brian Lapointe could tell me that he is back in the US and had returned her call around 11PM. She recounted to Brian what you emailed about him recommending LPS grinder pumping and so forth. Brian said he had called you to find out what was going on with sewers in the CRS area and made no recommendations of one system over another. He said, “I am not an engineer.” When you talked about using a grinder pump pressure sewer system, he said he told you that there were already a few areas in Florida where grinder pumps were previously used as the method and suggested that you call those places to find out how they were working for those communities.

That is exactly what Sarasota County’s utility did when investigating what type alternative collection system to use. The survey starts on page 25, but there is a good crash course before that.

http://sarasotan3sewers.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/evaluation-of-standards-for-low-pressuresewer-systems-sarasota-county.pdf
Charlotte County did the same thing and rejected Grinder Pump LPS, choosing Septic Tank Effluent Pumping (STEP) instead. With that system, it is possible (and suggested by DEP) to retain your sound septic tank and drain field so that if the electricity quits, instead of a sewage back-up, the primary treated effluent goes to the drainfield for secondary and tertiary treatment. Also, a standard 120V outdoor circuit will run the low cost pump. Because the solids and grease are left in the septic tank to digest, there is not much worry about plugging of the mains due to low flows not scouring the pipes.

http://www.fwrj.com/techarticles/1208%20FWRJ_tech2.pdf

Where is the formal comparison of alternative collection systems done by FKAA?

Was there due diligence?

How did it happen that the “Decision Tree” used to decide what system was most economically feasible for an area was doctored to eliminate consideration of vacuum technology? (750 minimum connections instead of 75)

Why did the Decision Tree indicate grinder pumps where gravity proved actually cheaper?

Was there due diligence in verifying the Decision Tree that was supplied by the grinder pump salesman?

Why were STEP or small bore sewers not included as possible alternatives?

Why was the least publicly acceptable, least suitable alternative selected?

Why has there been so much deceit and misleading information?

Is it any wonder that people are so distressed? Is anybody doing their job?

Dr. Lapointe was in Georgia last night, and expects to be in the Keys in another week or two. He was described as “pissed’ which I can certainly understand. He has been forwarded your email but had not seen it yet when he made the return call. You may be hearing from him.

(This was blind copied to many to protect their email addresses.)

Anon is slated to get a gravity sewer connection where he lives but is so disturbed by the grinder pump sewer connection many other lower Keys property owners are slated to receive, that he has take up that cause as a concern citizen. He sent this the day before yesterday.

Date: Sun, 15 Dec 2013 18:08:12 -0500
From: halloween@___________
Subject: hurricanes, sewers, & Walker has a grinder? RU sure?

(BCC to many)

I favor gravity as a sewer collection system, but vacuum is way better than grinders. Here’s an article about hurricanes and sewer service in Florida.
http://www.airvac.com/pdf/CE_NewsHurricane_eprint.pdf

I noticed in this article that Sarasota County has many customers on vacuum. I wonder what the special circumstance was that Tom Walker got a grinder pump? Or did he?

We have heard falsehoods and misleading statements in FKAA meetings and on the radio. FKAA rhetoric seems more sales pitch than a presentation of facts. I have my doubts that Walker even has a grinder pump, but if he does, it is not likely an individual E-1 because his property is shown as a low rise condo unit in Building D!
I found the following information on a property record search:

0157021026 303 PINE RUN DR 303 BLD D, OSPREY, FL, 34229
Ownership
WALKER THOMAS G
Most recent transfer: 5/31/2002 for $97,900
Qualification Code: 01
Instrument Type: WD
Municipality: Sarasota County
Property Use: 0403 – CONDO – Low-Rise 2-3 Stories
Subdivision: 7280 – PINE RUN I
Land Area S.F: 0
Waterfront: N/A
Status: OPEN
Parcel Description: UNIT 303 BLDG D PINE RUN

I clicked on the property record card and found a build date of 1973, which would indicate gravity or a package plant on site. If it has a grinder it was not an E-1 originally because they were not sold then.

It is a homesteaded property, so it seems that Walker does not claim residency in the Keys. The Commissioners do not need to worry about losing his vote by doing the right thing for their constituents!

I checked the aerial view from Google Earth but it was inconclusive. I was looking for a package plant or manholes,or grinder pits, but the resolution was too poor to be certain.

I checked zillow.com but it did not list the type of sewer service.

I think it is worth a call to an Osprey realtor who can provide the sewer utility’s name and phone if not able to offer specifics. I want to know the details of the sewer service and the service record if it is indeed a grinder- and what kind. I want the FKAA to know that some of us distrust their every word and are paying attention and searching for the truth with a microscope. My apologies for the almost invasion of privacy via public records, Tom, but it is not nearly as bad as forcing a legal easement to walk up to your window when it suits me!

Anon followed up yesterday:

Date: Mon, 16 Dec 2013 21:16:22 -0500
Subject: Walker’s grinder pump?
From: rocketscienceeh@__________ (Anon)
To: keysmyhome@hotmail.com

(bcc to others in the group)

We contacted 3 realtors and waiting for calls back, and gave up waiting on hold for the utility company to verify that there is no individual grinder at Tom Walker’s place in Osprey as was claimed in the LKPOA meeting and video recorded.
It is extremely unlikely there would be grinders with this kind of density! It would make no economic sense.
Scroll down to find #364 for sale. Walker’s is #330 and also a 1973 vintage. Water and sewer is included in the monthly condo fee says the listing. http://sarasotabayrealestate.com/pine-run-condos-for-sale/

Someone wrote to Banks Prevatt yesterday:

Banks,

Do we know how much it would cost to upgrade our neighborhood to all gravity? I have requested the cost differential twice from FKAA to no avail. Feel free to forward to whoever you wish. Given all the issues with grinders and associated property devaluation, I think it is important to be armed with that information if we are ever put in a position where we can no longer get the County to do what is right and must do something on our own. That stated, I am about 95% towards selling my place after all this nonsense. I have been working on living there full-time for so long but the pain is outweighing the gain–it is really too bad and so short sighted. The whole thing is unbelievable and a child would have better sense than to rely on a system that has so many points of failure vice maximizing a system that uses gravity as its “power” source. I at least get the argument for remote locations, but to claim we are remote in a platted subdivision where infill growth is encouraged is preposterous.
v/r,
Paul

Banks replied to Paul, copied to the county commissioners, county administrator (Roman Gastesi) and the county employee (Kevin Wilson) in charge of Cudjoe regional

From: Bgprevatt@___________
Date: Mon, 16 Dec 2013 21:10:23 -0500
Subject: Re: Cost estimate
To: Paul@_____________
CC: boccdis1@monroecounty-fl.gov; boccdis2@monroecounty-fl.gov; boccdis3@monroecounty-fl.gov; boccdis4@monroecounty-fl.gov; boccdis5@monroecounty-fl.gov; gastesi-roman@monroecounty-fl.gov; wilson-kevin@monroecounty-fl.gov

Notice 70+ are blind copied on this email and my last.

Paul,

Thanks for checking in. To answer your question, no. The same was asked of FKAA at the home owners meeting on Big Pine over a month ago, and no one that I know of has received an answer.

So far, it feels like we are knocking our heads against a stone wall. FKAA does not listen and only gives you lip service. They openly state they would rather have gravity. I parrot their words, “It always works and has no moving parts.” They continue to blame the BOCC because the BOCC, “controls the purse strings.” The BOCC says the FKAA designed the system. Discussions reveal that they are both completely right, and we are all wrong.

No one in the county seems to care that we are headed toward an environmental disaster while we try to save a buck.

Meanwhile, there is a frenzy of activity on Ramrod. The local residence feeling is they are trying to get as much grinder pipe in the ground as possible before we are able to bring this to ahead or stop.

Hang in there an keep working with us.

Banks

From someone else to me yesterday:

Sloan,

Since the BOCC wouldn’t answer even one of my three emails to them during the past few months, I was thinking to just blind-side ‘em with a TV news report; but you know all the players and sandbox they play in far better than I do…so I’ll shoot this out to all your “and to’s” if Banks hasn’t already done so. Thanks for all the pro bono publico advice. You’re pretty darned inspirational in your own quiet but kick-butt way.

Den

From: denrene@___________
To: wfornews@wfor.cbs.com, mgillen@wfor.cbs.com
Sent: 12/15/2013 11:38:46 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
Subj: Cudjoe Regional Wastewater Collection System & Treatment

Hello to Michelle Gillen of CBS4,

If you have (or are yourself) a “Shame on You” Al Sunshine type reporter, and you think the following is as worthy of news coverage as we do, a group of residents in the Lower Florida Keys would appreciate your “telling our story” as soon as possible.

The central issue is the wastewater treatment plan being foisted on some 25% of residents in the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater Project which extends from Cudjoe Key eastward through Big Pine Key and is part of the entire Florida Keys conversion to a comprehensive sewage disposal plan to eliminate all existing septic tanks. The Monroe County Board of Commissioners and the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority have been working in concert for several years now in planning this system and led Keys residents to believe they would be getting a gravity-only wastewater system for their $200 million tax investment. Not true! We all learned during several meetings with the FKAA dating back to October of this year that many of us (some 25% or so) will be getting low pressure system (LPS) raw sewage grinder pumps jammed five feet down our front yard throats since the BOCC would not be able to fund the entire project with a gravity-only system and we would have to accept this plan for “cost saving”. And for this most inferior of three possible sewer systems (the gold standard being gravity, the second being a vacuum system), we (25% of residents) will be required to sign over to the FKAA a 100-plus square foot piece of our property for $1.00 as easement to the FKAA for maintenance of this grinder pump; we will be required to pay for all plumbing to the pump; we will be required to pay for all electrical connections (with 220v access) to the pump, a junction box, and an alarm panel, plus all requisite county plumbing and electrical permits. The cost will range from several thousand dollars to nine thousand or so depending on individual residential requirements, and this is in addition to the standard $4,500.00 fee charged to each resident. However, the 75% of residents fortunate enough to get the truly reliable maintenance-free gravity system will only be required to pay for a lateral plumbing hookup line to the main sewer line in the roadway (in addition to the $4,500 fee).

This low pressure system is known not only to require considerable repetitive maintenance (particularly in a saltwater/salt-air environment, but what is worse is that it is a pressurized sewage system involving miles of under-roadway small diameter pvc pipe which is bound to be cracked and structurally compromised over time leading to undetectable leaks and a worse environmental scenario than we currently have with septic tanks. This pressurized system clearly defeats the purpose of conversion to a comprehensive sewer system because local experts tell us that all buried systems will eventually crack and leak here due to exposure to chlorides, salt, and constant vehicular traffic a couple of feet above the pipes. A low pressure system (LPS/grinder pump) will force raw macerated sewage out through cracks, while the same will not happen with either gravity or vacuum systems due to their inherent design (internal pipe pressure lower than ambient pressure outside the pipe in both cases).

It is worthy of note here that Rockridge, N.J. reportedly had the same type of grinder pumps installed which are planned for this part of the Keys. Hurricane Sandy flooded them which led to raw sewage dispersal so severe into homes and businesses that HAZMAT teams had to be employed. And without power, grinder pumps won’t work in any case as does a gravity system. If over 1100 of them are installed here as planned, they simply cannot be pumped out fast enough with portable generators during lengthy power outages and, in a word, toilet flushing will soon be rendered impossible.

Please review the following letter (just one of many from very concerned home owners) and the all websites referenced by this gentleman, particularly newtoncoalition.com. Please reply as soon as possible if you will consider exposing this serious Keys issue. I am not a subject expert on low pressure wastewater systems or grinder pumps but have several excellent sources of information from experienced and knowledgeable people to show how short-sighted and wrong-minded this LPS wastewater treatment plan would be for the Florida Keys if it is not stopped, both from the environmental and economic points of view – but contractors are already moving fast to get the grinder pump lines in the ground; and at the end of the sewer lines on Cudjoe, they plan to inject the processed outflow from the sewage treatment plant to a depth of only 100 feet underground.

THIS LOW PRESSURE GRINDER PUMP INSTALLATION MUST BE STOPPED.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Den Settles
Little Torch Key, FL

Because of my job and approaching retirement, I want to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal. I was hoping you can forward my sentiments below (without my e-mail address attached) to the entire mailing list, including all 5 commissioners and the news media.

The tremendous work by Walter Drabinski and his newtoncoaltion.com site alerted residents to the terribly misguided FKKA plans for Cudjoe Regional Wastewater Project. As we now know, the information provided on that website was so damning that major changes were made to the CRWP for several neighborhoods, resulting in abolishment of grinder pumps. Unfortunately, that was not the case for all neighborhoods.

The attached letter (see Link 1) by concerned citizens in Sarasota, FL — where a Dump the Pumps campaign led enlightened, farsighted Sarasota commissioners to alter plans to install grinder pumps (see Link 2) — sums up many of my concerns about grinder pumps in my neighborhood. Their letter addressed 9 points of concern (clearly there are additional issues), including the following — the bold text is part of the original letter:

“4. We are advised by realtors that having a grinder pump system, which is different than the “norm”, would necessitate a disclosure to any prospective buyer of the property. Only negative features require disclosure statements. If a buyer were to read up on grinder pumps why would they opt to buy a home with a serious problem waiting to happen?”

I’m over 60 years old (still working) and been a Big Pine resident for nearly 30 years. I’ve been barely making it financially due to increased costs of flood and wind insurance. Recently, my house, like all ground-level houses built before 1975, has already been greatly devalued because of astronomical insurance increases for any new buyer. Now it will be further devalued and even harder to sell because of a grinder pump. I learned yesterday from an electrician that my circuit breaker box is already maxed out — no room for anything, much less a 220 W grinder pump connection. He noted the hookup will not be cheap.

A commissioner with empathy would recognize that besides all the clear negatives of grinder pumps, that there are long-time residents who are getting hammered financially because they live in a ground level home built prior to 1975. If these devices from Hades (grinder pumps) are forced upon residents, at the very least, any fees or expenses associated with them should be waived entirely, especially for senior citizens with mortgages living in devalued ground level houses built before 1975.

Those of us slated for grinder pumps are victims through no fault of our own. Our lives are being turned upside down with worry over a blatantly flawed sewering plan and yet we are given flippant, disingenuous answers that dodge the immutable information presented in newtoncoaltion.com. Any citizen deserves better. I respect our commissioners — especially Commissioner Kohlage — and hope they will give the matter the attention it deserves.

Link 1: Letter by concerned Sarasota residents to commissioners:
http://sarasotan3sewers.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/county-commissioners-vote-to-dump-the-pumps/

Link 2: Sarasota commissioners alter plans for installation of grinder pumps:
http://sarasotan3sewers.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/county-commissioners-vote-to-dump-the-pumps/

Thanks for listening.

A concerned resident

Banks Prevatt wrote yesterday to the county commissioners, county administrator and county employee in charge of Cudjoe regional:

From: Bgprevatt@___________
Date: Mon, 16 Dec 2013 20:18:08 -0500
Subject: Fwd: The cheap quick fix or environmental protection
To: boccdis1@monroecounty-fl.gov; boccdis2@monroecounty-fl.gov; boccdis3@monroecounty-fl.gov; boccdis4@monroecounty-fl.gov; boccdis5@monroecounty-fl.gov; gastesi-roman@monroecounty-fl.gov; wilson-kevin@monroecounty-fl.g

To Monroe County,

Another reasonable FYI. There are a number of people out there that are afraid to come forward because of fear of employment reprisals.

Thanks for your time,
Banks Prevatt

From: gettheleadout@____________
To: Bgprevatt@____________
Sent: 12/16/2013 1:24:07 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
Subj: Fwd: The cheap quick fix or environmental protection

This came from another anony. sender.

Please forward for me and ask Banks to forward to the entire mailing list, including the news media and the 5 BOCC commissioners. Thanks ;l

With the sewer project surrounded on all sides by a national marine sanctuary and bordered on one island by a national wildlife refuge underlain by a fresh water lens, one would think that the following exhaustive report — by an engineering firm for Cape Coral — would have been considered. See Section 5-17 of attached link and excerpted below. Of 6 systems considered in that report, grinder pumps were ranked the poorest in reliability and, you guessed it, aside from septic tanks were ranked the least favorable system for the environment , (See Table 6-1, page 6-1).

Commissioners, NOAA: at long last, are you paying attention???

http://www.news-press.com/assets/pdf/A476189611.PDF

“Of the collection system alternatives, conventional gravity sewers afford the greatest degree of environmental protection. ”

More, of the 6 systems compared, the operating costs for 20, 30 and 40-year periods were much much higher for grinder pumps than all other systems. (Tables 5-9 to 5-11, Pages 5-15 to 5-16).

I thought sewering the Keys was supposed to be about pollution and its impact on nearshore waters, not a shortsighted, cheap, quick fix.

DUMP THE PUMPS before it’s too late. Don’t let this project become the inevitable fiasco that has occurred elsewhere.

Thanks for listening

A concerned resident.

County Commissioner David Rice wrote to Banks Prevatt this morning:

David Rice

Banks,
I have requested that the aqueduct respond to the information in your email.
David

Anon wrote to me last night after I had talked with Naja Girard at Key West the Newspaper about Anon submitting an article:

I would be happy to write an article for them but realistically I will probably not find the time by Thursday. Maybe the next edition. and somebody else would have take credit for it. I am in the same boat as several of the background group with employment or contract reprisal risks. I like the Blue Paper. It is clearly independent and not afraid to state an opinion or give enough raw facts to help you form your own. I recall that the FKAA used to have KW the Newspaper in their lobby until the paper disclosed the astonishing salaries some were getting. If they felt they were worth the money it would not have bothered them!

Environmental issues with grinders and pressure sewers in general are plentiful, but only money talks to the BOCC, FKAA, and too many people. As industry says, “the solution to pollution is dilution” and I suppose that is technically true. If you have 1700 septic tanks covering many square miles, and a small percentage are seeping primary treated wastewater, then the environmental impact and certainly the newsworthy impact should be miniscule compared to a ruptured sewer force main spewing many thousands of gallons of raw sewage off the causeway. I have always believed that the true impetus for sewering the Keys was development rather than environment. You can’t have high density population on septic tanks. That is the only reason Key Colony and Hawks Cay put in central sewers, and the only reason that resorts, hotels and RV parks have package plants. Maybe I was wrong, because the vacuum sewers and now LPS sewers are self restricting in expansion capacity. Maybe someone didn’t get the memo.

I wrote to Anon:

Don’t understand your need for secrecy given all the emails you send to BOCC. I have published several posts with your name scattered through them.

Anon wrote:

Say my full name … FAST. That’s ok, nobody at BOCC got it either! (grin)

I wrote:

Har, har, har – clever devil, you, your cute little red horns will suit you just fine, but that article is important and I do not feel I can do it justice but maybe it falls on me anyway.

*****************************

I understand Anon and other people’s reluctance to put their names and faces in plain view in this war, but it sure makes it harder on me, and it sure makes it harder for them to get the angels fully involved.

In today’s Key West Citizenwww.keysnews.com

Residents fight grinder systems
Group wants county, aqueduct to install gravity sewage collectors instead
BY TIMOTHY O’HARA Citizen Staff
tohara@keysnews.com

Another group of angry Florida Keys residents has banded together to fight grinder-pump sewage collection systems, and they have not ruled out filing a lawsuit to stop the systems from being installed.

Residents on Big Pine, Ramrod and Cudjoe keys have joined forces, as part of yet-to-be-named coalition, to fight plans by the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority and Monroe County to install grinder pumps in the roughly $150 million Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System.

The bulky grinder pumps, which would be placed below ground in residents’ yards, are part of lower-pressure sewer collection systems the aqueduct authority has proposed for the Cudjoe regional system.

The coalition of homeowners wants the county and aqueduct authority to forego using the low-pressure systems and install the more highly regarded gravity collection systems in about 800 homes, according to aqueduct authority officials.

On Monday, aqueduct authority staff was still working on cost estimates for the 800 properties, Executive Director Kirk Zuelch said.

If approved, it would be the second time in recent months the county and aqueduct authority have reduced the number of grinder pumps and expanded the use of gravity collection systems.

Members of the coalition and their attorney, Lee Rohe, met last week with aqueduct authority officials to review plans and discuss the Cudjoe regional project, said Banks Prevatt, a founder of the group.

Group members and county commissioners debated via email last week whether grinder pumps were the best technology for the Keys. Commissioners were scheduled to discuss the issue at their monthly commission meeting, but said they indefinitely postponed the discussion due to a lack of information.

Residents claim that low-pressure collection systems and grinder pumps are prone to saltwater intrusion and maintenance intense, which could result in the costs increasing over time. Also, maintenance could be problematic for residents, as workers might have to tear up yards to get to the pumps.

“We want gravity where it is appropriate,” Prevatt said. “They picked the system not because it’s the best but because it is cheaper. The residents of this county passed a referendum to extend the sales tax to support a fully funded (wastewater) system. The ballot should have read ‘fully funded appropriate system.'”

Prevatt did not rule out filing a lawsuit to stop the installation of grinder pumps.

Aqueduct authority and county officials contend that the grinder pumps and lower-pressure systems are the best bang for the buck, and people are generally opposed to the grinder pumps because are they are being placed in their yards.

County Commissioner George Neugent, who represents the residents who will be served by the Cudjoe regional system, has been working with both residents and the aqueduct authority to come up with a fiscally responsible solution.

“It’s a good system and it will work,” Neugent said of grinder pumps and the low-pressure system. “I stand by it.”

The county commission tentatively postponed last week’s discussion on expanding the use of the more expensive gravity sewer collection systems to the January meeting. However, the discussion may have to be postponed another month, as county Mayor Sylvia Murphy will be in Cuba, and County Commissioner David Rice will be in Vietnam then, Neugent said.

On Monday, Neugent was working on having the meeting rescheduled, or having the county hold a special meeting in January to discuss the issue, he said.

The residents’ latest request comes two months after the county commission agreed to expand the use of gravity sewer collection systems into several neighborhoods from Cudjoe Key to Big Pine Key.

Residents of those communities had opposed the county’s use of low-pressure sewer collection and grinder pump technology and threatened a lawsuit, arguing that the low-pressure systems would be more expensive to maintain and not as effective as gravity in such densely populated communities. Providing gravity systems in those neighborhoods added an additional $10 million to $11 million in upfront costs to the Cudjoe Regional System, which will serve residents from Sugarloaf Key to Big Pine Key.

********************************

Holy cow, not a word in Tim’s article about grinder pump systems posting serious ecological threats to the fragile Florida Keys environment via their shallow-buried high pressure lines developing leaks and spewing raw sewage into the ecosystem, which does not happen when deep-buried low-pressure gravity systems spring leaks. No mention in Tim’s article of grinder pump systems not working when the power goes out. No mention that grinder pumps stop working when not used regularly (many snowbirds live in the lower Keys). No mention of what happens during a hurricane title surge, like what happened in Hurricane Wilma, when 3 feet of sea water came over the lower Keys. Human shit ended up all over the ground in a new Jersey grinder pump subdivision during Hurricane Sandy. Tim had all of that information. I wished he had made clear that grinder systems are ecologically inferior in the Keys. Cost is secondary.

————————-

What continues to really bug me is it looks to me the county commissioners and county staff knew all along that grinder pumps were the most polluting way to go, but they went that way anyway, even though Tallahassee’s mandate was for Monroe County to clean up its sewage problem (septic tanks and cess pits) by sewering the entire Keys.

What else also continues to bug me is Walt Drabinsky persuaded the county commissioners to maximize gravity systems and minimize grinder pump systems in the area of the lower Keys he undertook to help, because Drabinsky was right and the county was wrong. Yet the county commissioners did not apply what Drabinsky had shown them to the rest of the lower Keys: use gravity systems wherever they are feasible.

Sloan at Coco's

Sloan Bashinsky

keysmyhome@hotmail.com

 

About Sloan

That's what this website is about, also goodmorningkeywest.com and goodmorningbirmingham.com. If you can't get a publisher to take on your wacky musing, you do it yourself.
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