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Banks Prevatt forwarded this County Commissioner George Neugent-constituent email exchange to me this morning:
From: Neugent-George <Neugent-George@monroecounty-fl.gov>
To: Gls33 <Gls33@_________>
Sent: Thu, Dec 19, 2013 10:48 am
Subject: Re: grinder pumps
Thanks for the threat, I believe I will now run again so as to give you something to do in your spare time. My position on grinder, gravity, vacuum, and other alternative system is pretty well founded on factual information not hysteria. Get yourself some candidates.
On Dec 19, 2013, at 7:32 AM, “Gls33@______ wrote:
I live on little torch and can assure you that everyone I have talked to are against the grinder pumps I know you are not running again but if you want support in anything you choose to do after politics in Monroe county I would rethink your stance on grinder pumps. thanks Gary Al Schwartz 34 year full time resident
I replied to George, copied to Banks and Gary:
To: bgprevatt@_______; gls33@_______; email@example.com
Subject: RE: grinder pumps
Date: Sat, 21 Dec 2013 09:06:56 -0500
Do I hate hearing you say you believe you will break your campaign promise that 2010 was your last race and you would not run again. I hate it because I don’t like not living up to my own promises – I have paid dearly in the karma sense, when I did not live up to my promises. And, I hate it because I can only imagine that, if you do run again, the dratted angels will make me move back up to that neck of the woods and run against you again, and I doubt that would be a fun time for either of us.
Shortly after sending that, it came to me that George’s campaign slogan in 2010 was, “Promises made, promises kept.” I wondered if I was going to get another pass at it? Yep, George wrote back, I added the pic:
Subject: Re: grinder pumps
Date: Sat, 21 Dec 2013 15:16:01 +0000
Start packing and blame it on some dude from Little Torch. I can’t stand threats.
Subject: RE: grinder pumps
Date: Sat, 21 Dec 2013 13:03:06 -0500
Well, how about your 2010 campaign slogan:
“Promises made, promises kept.”
Will your 2014 campaign slogan be:
“Promises made, promises broken.”
I left out the question marks because the questions were rhetorical.
This grinder pump thing is a bit bigger than you, George. It is a bit bigger than the County Commission. You 5 commissioners caved in to Walt Drabinsky’s threats, and shifted that area over to gravity wherever feasible. In doing so, you admitted Walt was right and you 5 were wrong. Now you are telling your constituents in other lower Keys areas that you are right and they are wrong, even though you 5 admitted you were wrong and Drabinsky was right. That’s what it looks like to me, and I am hearing that’s how it looks to lots of people.
Was copied with this about the time I saw George’s reply that I start packing, I added the pic:
John and Beti Duke (saildreamcatcher@________)
To: Neugent-George@monroecounty-fl.gov, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cc: Bgprevatt@_______, many recipients suppressed
Seems like if we (Monroe County) go all this way (water quality via a sewage system) and choose a ”best method” gravity feed then says ”well the money covers only so much” so lets just put in 25% grinders ”worst method” , this is not logical. Not only is it not logical it is defeating the purpose for long range clean up of high nutrients in our waters. Potential leakage in the future means ”more monies” allotted for ”a fix” , digging up all the grinder pumps and tanks and replacing with ”the best” gravity feed.
Go with the best! Quality!
28555 Jolly Roger Dr
Which garnered this reply from another anti grinder pump foe:
John William (bigpine@________)1:51 PM
To: John and Beti Duke
Cc: Neugent-George@monroecounty-fl.gov, email@example.com, Bgprevatt@________, and many suppressed recipeints
The money saved on up-front capital construction cost will be spent in sewer rates forever fixing the junk.
Mechanical stuff breaks and needs replacement. These are expensive pumps and will be even more expensive once you are locked into that brand and type and not purchasing thousands at a time. The “plastic bucket” grinder tank will never last like a concrete septic tank either and will cost more to replace than they did to install. Dumb, dumb, dumb idea- especially here. Who all is being paid to pretend such stupidity?
Why was vacuum not considered where gravity was truly impractical? It is likely cheaper than individual grinders and at least there would still be service when the power is out and leaks would be in instead of out.
Why the insistence on individual grinders instead of mini gravity to shared grinders like Sarasota N3 or Marathon?
I think anyone would agree that there is too much illogical with the extensive use of grinders to be considered honest or competent. I believe those who are the most inflexible in support of grinders are obviously the most suspect.
At the grinder pump opposition camp’s meeting this morning on Little Torch Key, I ascertained that, despite our pleas at the recent Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority (FKAA) Board of Directors meeting, that they order the work stopped in Cudjoe regional sewer district until the County Commission provide enough funding for FKAA to use gravity sewer systems wherever possible, no stop work order was given, grinder pump lines continued to be laid. I told Banks that, in my opinion, that constituted exhaustion of his camp’s administrative remedies with FKAA. In retrospect though, I imagine under Florida law, a written demand must be made and FKAA given the time required by law to respond, before Banks’ camp can file suit against FKAA, if that is where Banks’ camp is headed.
Other recent input from Banks’ camp, which he forwarded to me:
Another letter to the commissioners. I have permission to publish. — banks
100+ blind copied
In a message dated 12/20/2013 3:36:35 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, gettheleadout@bells__________ writes:
I live on Big Pine Key and received notice we are going to go on a Grinder Pump instead of the Gravity System. We attended the FKAA meeting but to our surprise, none of you were present, nor were you present at the North region meeting at the Vinyard. It was clear from the crowds reaction that the vast marjority did not want to be on grinder pumps and anger escalated because part of Port Pine Heights was switched to gravity while all other areas were not. The Florida Keys are unique in many ways from other locations where Grinder Pumps are used. This must be taken into consideration.
As you know, all of the keys and their waterways are areas of critical concern and most of Big Pine Key is a Federal Refuge. This is why the sewer plan was put in place to begin with, to treat sewage so that it would stop polluting our fragile islands and leach into waters, degrading our reefs, sea life and water quality. Nobody is disputing this. What we do take issue with is this completely short sighted plan to install hundreds of Grinder Pumps that will likely escalate these environmntal problems rather then correct them. Why remove septic tanks then switch to a system that will do just as much damage and cost everyone far more. Gravity is the only long term solution, grinder pumps are a temporary patch with long term implications that will continue to cost everyone money.
Grinder pumps have been a miserable failure in other parts of Florida where they backed up onto the land, waterways as well as homes during hurricanes and ultimately had to be replaced with a better system such as gravity or vacuum. We are at a far greater risk of that happening here and impacts will greatly outweigh those of the mainland due to our unique geography. We are on fragile islands at sea level, on rock and surrounded by water. Pipes break and leak and are not detectable on grinder pump systems and when we have another storm surge and the power is out for weeks, raw sewage will float right into the sea, from every direction. This is basically what happens now, with septic tanks. So why I ask you, would you choose to put so many neighborhoods on grinder pumps rather then gravity or even a vacuum system? The maintenance at so many hundreds of individual sites alone will be impractical if not impossible for the small FKAA staff. I can understand using a grinder pump when there is one home miles out from a neighborhood or a driveway several hundred feet long, then yes, it is appropriate, but we are talking about developed neighborhoods which are just like Port Pine Heights, that you chose to put on an inferior system, when we should ALL be on gravity.
Aside from the main and most important Environmental reason, there are far more reasons why these grinder pumps won’t work in the Keys.
*A great majority of residents are seasonal, grinder pumps fail more frequently when not in use for long periods, what will this cost the tax payers and homeowners? Will our sewer bills keep going up as these pumps constantly fail?
*Many homes are rented both short and long term, there is no way to control who will flush what.
*Children flush everything, do we now need childproof bathrooms?
*Many lock their gates for security reasons while away. How will FKAA get into the many locked gates when the grinder pump alarms start going off and the owners are up north or their electric gate won’t open due to a power outage?
*We had no power for three weeks during Wilma but we could still flush with a bucket of water, try that with a grinder pump and you will need rubber boots. Fill your bathtub so you have water during a hurricane? Not anymore, drain it and it’s a backup right into your tub and shower! Insurance won’t pay for damages or cleanup.
*We were told at the meeting FKAA would send out trucks with generators in the event of a long term outage! LOL! This is not possible and you and FKAA know it. There is not enough staff or trucks to come close to addressing so many hundreds of grinder pumps during a power outage, this is pure insanity!
*Then there is the issue of having to pay an electrician to put in 220 so I can install “county equipment” on my property and lose use of 100 sq. foot minimum not counting the trench length, where I can no longer have trees. Who will ultimately pay for maintenance, repairs etc. long term? We were told FKAA would, is that what the folks in Key Largo were told too? Will this all fall on the proud new grinder pump owners in the future after the warranty expires or will it show up on everyones sewer bill?
The list goes on.
You keep telling us grinder pumps are a good system that you fully support, but much evidence to the contrary raises too many questions to be ignored and makes me wonder how you came to that conclusion.
Just what is good about them? Money seems to be at the forefront as always, yet their seems to be plenty of it from the recent list of projects and purchases that you all have approved and put ahead of what should be priority number one, a valid GRAVITY SEWER STSTEM to protect our environment, waters and reefs so tourists will actually still have reason to come.
FKAA said they support Gravity in the Keys but need YOU to approve the funding which we have all been paying in taxes for many years. Our money is in your hands and it should be used for the number one priority issue in the Keys, a Gravity Sewer System to insure future land, water and reef quality.
This is the whole point of a sewer project!
I ask that you please choose Gravity Systems for ALL neighborhoods. It is by far, the best and only choice for the people and our Florida Keys.
And this forward from Banks:
I have permission to send this out.
This went out to the BOCC from an individual. I would encourage any and all of you to do the same — your own direct email to the commissioners. Your have their five email addresses below. A steady barrage could not hurt.
90+ blind copied.
From: Paul Prue
Sent: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 5:12 PM
To: firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Grinder pumps
I live in Cuthroat Harbor Estates and am scheduled for the LPS instead of the gravity system that most of the residents are getting. I am ashamed to say that after leaving a public meeting at the Sugarloaf school I was in favor of this system and perfectly happy to go along with whatever was presented to us like a good little sheeple. I am embarrassed to say that when asked my opinion by my friends and neighbors I supported the LPS.
Now that I have had time to hear “the other side” and do a lot of reading I feel we as a community have been sold a bill of goods. If the LPS is so wonderful why did the commission do a 180 on the Cudjoe Gardens area as well as a couple of other areas that were scheduled to have it. Was it because they just happened to find some “extra” money that could be used to “upgrade” these areas to the gravity system or was it for fear of a law suit or possibly was it because of the fact that the information presented by Walter Drabinski was correct and the right thing to do was put them on gravity. Regardless of the reason it is apparent to any 2nd grader that the LPS is an inferrior system and is costing these home owners a lot more than it will cost a home owner on the gravity system. Those that are making the decisions and trying to sell everyone on this matter are either very short term thinkers or are doing so to line their own pockets.
One day while Gianetti was working on the gravity portion of Spanish Main Dr. I spoke with the FKAA person on site and questioned him on the timeline for the LPS in our area. He stated that within a day or two they would be leaving the area and moving on to other gravity areas and the LPS lines would be the last to go in the ground. This was around the same time Walter Drabinskis group was pushing hard for gravity. Within two days they had finished the gravity portion and to my surprise they were starting the LPS lines. I spoke with a friend that works for Gianetti and was told that the FKAA told them to get as much LPS lines in the ground ASAP. I am pretty certain this will be denied by everyone up the chain but I also know what I see on the streets. There is only one reason they would do that and that is so they would have more leverage to keep what is there rather than remove it and do it right.
Sewering the Keys is the single most important issue that you have had to deal with in a number of years and you are going to shortchange your constituants by cheaping out and making some homeowners pay more on the LPS than those on gravity, give them an inferrior system, make them give up some of their property and not to mention the environmental impact of the system. Your emergency plan of driving generator trucks around to run the pumps on our propeties is laughable. I am certain I don’t have the education that you all probably do but I believe I have a lot more common sense and that is not an emergency plan.
I have heard things from the commission such as “enough is enough we need to move on” and “once the train has started rolling everyone is going to want to get on board” so we need to end this now. Is this really what you want to do. Settle for something just because you are tired of dealing with it. I truly believe that everyone of you know the right thing to do is put in the gravity system for EVERYONE not only because it would be more equitable but also because it is the better system for the environment. I know it is hard to change your minds once you are set on something but for the good of all I emplore you to swallow your pride, admit an injustice is occuring and do something about it.
Paul E. Prue
Was sent this petition and link last below today by the anti-grinder camp gal who set up www.dumpthepumps.com, which you also might wish to visit and peruse, and the petition in the link below:
No to Grinder Pumps ~ Stop raw sewage leaks from decimating our Keys environment
Petition to Revise Sewer Collection System Design And Construction
A Petition of the Undersigned Citizens of the Florida Keys
Monroe County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC, County)
Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority Board of Directors (FKAA)
Vast areas of the Lower Keys have been designed to have sewer collection systems consisting of individual grinder pumps. The pumps chosen are of a proprietary design having unique characteristics. Instead of a traditional network of manholes and gravity sewer pipes, the grinder pumps would force sewage through a network of relatively small diameter flexible pipes.
Installation of these County-owned grinder pump stations are to be made onprivate property with a required easement to FKAA for maintenance.
The electrical permitting and construction cost to supply power to the County’s grinder pump stations has been made the responsibility of the individual property owner at whatever cost- estimated to be from $1,000 to several thousand dollars depending on individual circumstances and complexity. The accumulated shift of construction expense to grinder pump property owners is over $2.8 million dollars!
Areas of lower population density in previously installed Keys collection systems (Big Coppitt, Geiger Key, Shark Key, Duck Keys) were served with gravity sewers of much higher reliability and much lower operating costs. Earlier FKAA sewer projects were served with vacuum sewers- which although expensive to maintain did not require relinquishment of property rights and electric pumping facilities to be installed on private property. The vacuum systems are in Marathon and Baypoint. Citizens in all previous sewer phases had only the usual connection costs of piping from the house to the street and abandoning existing tanks.
It is not equitable to demand surrender of private property rights and to shift part of the overall public construction costs of a central sewer to those property owners who are unfortunate enough to be in a grinder pump zone. The individual property owner is expected to provide the land and foot the bill to provide power to County-owned equipment. Grinder pump collection systems are noted for unreliability and high costs of maintenance which places the burden of higher sewer rates on all customers.
The excuse for using grinder pumps was claimed to be lower initial construction costs, but the cost of providing land and power was cast upon the property owner and not included in calculations. Detailed cost comparisons have shown that the up front cost can be cheaper to install gravity sewers, even without including the individual’s cost to provide land and power. In long term cost comparison grinders are clearly much more expensive. There are many hardships being thrust upon FKAA customers, and especially those slated for grinder pumps, just for the sake of most quickly building a collection system with the least thought and effort.
We the citizens of the Florida Keys and ratepayers of FKAA sewers deserve better from those elected or appointed to serve us (at our cost).
We the undersigned do hereby petition the above named elected or appointed representatives to forthwith take the following actions:
1. Stop the waste and build sewers sensibly! Order an immediate cease work on the design and construction of sewer collection infrastructure in areas currently planned or designed for individual grinder pump installation. Gravity sewer and large transmission force main construction currently contracted may proceed uncontested.
2. Do an honest evaluation of economic feasibility. Initiate a prompt reevaluation of the economic feasibility of providing gravity sewers to all homes currently planned or designed to have individual grinder pumps, and make the details of the reevaluation open to public scrutiny. Reevaluation of costs must be truly comparable, with no additional restoration or improvements included in one but not the other. The reevaluation must include operation and maintenance costs over at least a twenty year period and not place unnecessary restrictions on design parameters.
3. Where installation of a gravity sewer collection point for a particular property is truly not economically viable in the long and short term, but where a grinder pump is a sensible possibility:
A. Treat citizens fairly! Revise policy and construction specifics such that no electrical apparatus or power supply is required of the property owner to flow waste-water to the public right of way- unless said owner’s building is too low or too far from the right of way to permit connection three feet below ground elevation when extended at a 1% slope from where the owner’s sewer exits his building.. (In other words, no extra cost or effort required of the property owner unless the building is too low to flow by gravity alone at a minimum legal slope to a typical gravity sewer lateral, and therefore a private lift pump would be required for any system.)
B. Stop taking people’s property rights! Revise policy to not require the surrender of private property or private property rights to the installation of public property, unless such private property acquisition is essential to the public use and acquired through formal eminent domain procedures and fairly compensated, or given by voluntary free will donation devoid of duress. (In other words, no individual grinder pumps forced on private property and no easements required under normal circumstances.)
The following concerned citizens support the sewer revisions actions as stated above: