water, political and legal pollution in Key West and the Florida Keys are not exactly many splendored things …

pelican pooping

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Truman Waterfront

Re the recent special Key West city commission meeting on Truman Waterfront’s outer mole pier reported in yesterday’s baa baa black sheep and related Key West fairytales and big game fish trolling … post at www.goodmorningkeywest.com, Nashville J wrote:

Grand Ole Opry


The Government is not capable of running anything and making a profit:

Hell, back in 1990, the Government seized the Mustang Ranch brothel inNevada for tax evasion and, as required by law, tried to run it. They failed and it closed. Now we are trusting the economy of our country and our banking system to the same nit-wits who couldn’t make money running a whore house and selling whiskey !”

So, the City pays Swifty $500,000 a year to bring tourist into Key West from the outer mole – in order that they can get off that City paid service and then step on to another Swifty Trolly for which they pay $20 to tour the city and make Swifty $$$$ on top of the $500,000 that he made from the City – clog up traffic and generally disturb everyone in Key West! Swifty makes bunches of money, the trinket shops, T-shirt shops- strip clubs – bars make lots of money and the only people who lose money are the citizens of Key West .

Yep, that’s gotta be a government run operation!



Agreed, yet for me that is a molecule on a sperm whale’s butt come compared to water pollution down here.

On the outer mole pier at the end of Truman Waterfront, Bob Kelly, who sits on the Truman Waterfront Advisory Board, wrote:

Bob Kelly
Here’s a thought: why not make the outer mole pier the docking point of last resort? Since the outer mole pier is losing money, largely because of the half-million dollars that goes to HTA for transportation and security, bringing the majority of ships to either Mallory docks or Pier B will eliminate those costs. On a day when both of those berths are is use, then we open up the outer mole to accommodate that third ship. It’s my observation that Mallory is underutilized and that the Navy pier is over-utilized.

As always, the devil is in the details. For example, are there cruise ships that are too big for Mallory? Very well, only schedule those ships for days when Pier B is available. Gradually phase those ships out of the schedule anyway. If they’re too big for Mallory, they’re probably too big for Key West anyway.

Couple that move with raising disembarkation fees and assessing impact fees on Pier B (or renegotiating the split with the Westin) and we should begin to reverse the drain from the Navy Pier.

Your comments directed at John Dolan-Heitlinger and his employment at HTA were well-said. I’ve heard you make them on other occasions; keep on reminding us.


Agreed, yet for me that is a molecule on a sperm whale’s butt compared to water pollution down here.

There is a most interesting Key West water pollution article in today’s breaking issue of Key West the Newspaper –www.thebluepaper.com. You also should be able to get there by clicking on this link: #1 SOURCE OF POLLUTION: THE OFFICIAL STORY

Reader comments now under that article, the last two still in moderation.


  1. This article is well written, well researched, well balanced, thorough, and conclusive. Well done!

    If there were a Pulitzer Prize given this week, you should have it.

  2. In the 70?s, before most of the storm water drains were installed, the near shore waters around Key West were alive and beautiful. You could snorkel off any beach and enjoy all manor of sea life. We would dip pounds of large pink shrimp straight from the shallows off College road.

    As the 80?s progressed and the storm drains were being installed there was a dramatic decline in our near shore water quality. Correlation does not prove causation, however today our island is surrounded by a algae covered zone with minimal sea life.

    In 1973, I completed my degree in oceanography at the University of Miami studying the Florida Keys coral reef systems. From that experience I have always blamed the majority of the damage to our near shore waters on the storm drain system, which flushes the island of it’s fertilizers and animal/bird poop every time it rains.

    If the storm water and sewer systems are commingling, as it seems they are, the problem is even worse, but at least gives us a situation that can be improved, if the blame gets placed where it belongs and the work is done to separate the two systems.

    Unfortunately, for our offshore waters and coral reef the storm drains are only a part of the “Perfect Storm” of agricultural and landscaping fertilizer nutrient runoff, from the Mississippi and Western Florida flowing down the Loop current to us, that has devastated our offshore water quality and coral reefs. This problem is also affecting lakes and streams across the country and will require state and federal legislation to reduce runoff by changing farming and landscaping practices across the country.

    Great article. Thank you Arnaud.

  3. Back a few years, maybe 2004, Assistant City Manager John Jones told me in his office that there were, as I recall the number, 10,000 leaking sewer laterals in Key West, which needed to be repaired. I later heard the city started dealing with it and that problem was resolved; however, I am not ready to blame it all on birds, dogs, fertilizer, etc., although that surely has to be a factor. Dr. Brian La Point (renown sea biologist) told me the reef die-off was due to farm chemical run-off from the Okeechobee area, into the Everglades, which leaked into the Bay of Florida and then down to the Keys. He said that run off was diverted to Lake Okeechobee, and from there into a canal running east-west to the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico sides of Florida, and the chemicals killed the aquatic vegetation manatees eat but increased the red algae production, and the manatee tried to eat the red algae (which case red tide) and they started getting sick and dying. The east and west coast communities started raising hell about that in Tallahassee, and now the plan is to start dumping the farm chemical runoff back into the Glades, which will bring it back down to the Keys.

  4. During citizen comments at Wednesday night’s city commission meeting, and during citizen comments at the previous city commission meeting, I said the dirtiest worst possible cruise ships are calling on Key West and have been doing so for a long time and the commissioners and mayor know that and they must like it because they have yet to do anything to try to stop it. I said Key West has one real asset, the sea and reef, and as that goes, Key West goes, and they all knew that. I said they should be doing everything possible to stop those ships from calling on Key West, instead of figuring out a way to keep the city involved in those ships continuing to dock at the outer mole on Truman Waterfront, the chief beneficiary all along of which is Historic Tours of America, which brings cruise ship passengers from the other mole to HTA gift shops where are sold trinkets and conch shells from Asia, then they can get on conch trains and trolleys for a fee, and be taken on a tour of Key West, and for leading those cruise ship passengers to those adventures in paradise, HTA (Ed Swift) is paid $500,000 a year by the city. His hit man, John Dolan-Heiglinger, spoke before me, saying several times how important the outer mole pier revenues are, but not to whom, or that he worked for HTA, which I mentioned also during citizen comments, and that every channel dredging forum, where he got to speak on the panel, becaue he represented a bar pilots PAC, he spoke for widening the channel and bringing in bigger cruise ships, and he never said he worked for HTA at those forums. At the last forum in Tropic Cinema, hosted by Hometown! PAC, I told panelists Bill Becker and Richard Grusin what Dolan-Heitlinger worked and that he was not saying at forums where he worked, and I asked them to get him to say where he worked, but they did not ask him where he worked when they had their several chances to do so. I heard the PAC Dolan-Heitlinger represented had few members, and was set up as a front for HTA, so it could have a full seat on the dais at all channel dredging forums.

I had a really long rough last night and today is shaping up about the same, with the grinder pump war perhaps coming to a head before the Monroe County Commission at 1:30 p.m. today in the Harvey Government Center on Truman Avenue, Key West, and Hatman’s request to be declared indigent so he can get a court-appointed lawyer for his appeal from being convicted of living in his van in Key West also scheduled for 1:30 p.m. before Judge Miller in the Freeman Justice Center off of Whitehead Street in Key West.

Here’s Walt Drabinski’s “pre-trial brief” to the county commissioners and water authority officials, without photos I could not transfer:

I believe that the BOCC and BOD of FKAA will establish their legacy based on the ultimate design and success of the CRWS. If as our County Engineer, Kevin Wilson states, it is a ”robust system” that will serve our area for many years, everyone will have forgotten the issues in time. If it proves to be the disaster as many predict and as other coastal communities have experienced, this will be what you are remembered for. This is the last chance to get it right. Think hard!
This is the last and most complex wastewater collection system of all those installed in the Florida Keys. About 10,000 homes and businesses on six different Keys will have their sewage pumped through almost 300 miles of pressurized HPDE plastic pipe to a 30 mile long transmission pipe that runs from the north end of Big Pine Key to Lower Sugarloaf Key and empties into the treatment plant on Cudjoe Key. Currently 1,700 homes and businesses and about 300 lift stations will use pumps driven with one horsepower motors to pump effluent into the 30 mile long, eight inch transmission line where booster pumps then assist the pumping. Dozens of waterways and roads will be crossed, including a one mile, line being tunneled 75’ under the coral seabed of Niles Channel. This appears to be the largest and most complex Low Pressure System (LPS) system ever installed in the United States. It far exceeds the design model limits of the supplier, E-one and its Marathon based subcontractor, Water Resource Technologies (WRT) which is supplying the grinder pumps and lift station pumps through a sole source contract. It also seems to be contrary to decisions made by other coastal communities, which when faced with using a pressurized system opted for gravity or vacuum.
What are the arguments for the system? It is purported to have the lowest cost for initial installation. This may have been an argument with some validity four years ago when there was no new funding for the project. Since then the Infrastructure Sales Tax in Monroe County has been extended until 2033 for the explicit purpose of funding this very wastewater system and will collect over $200 million in additional revenue. In addition, the State has already provided a $50 million grant and another $50 million is promised this year. In May 2012, the County told us the project will cost $192 million (based on 2008 commodity costs) for a design we were not given details about. In late 2012 when bids came in, the total price was under $150 million and with design changes to date, including the reduction of 1,150 grinder pumps and the one mile underwater drilling project the cost is at $170 million.
What are the arguments against this extensive use of low pressure collection and grinder pumps in individual yards? There are many.
? The County and FKAA Engineers claim that pressure systems has the lowest initial cost, a fact that may not be credible since we now have the estimates for a vacuum system that shows it has a lower initial cost. Vacuum, despite extensive use in Marathon and Key Largo, was inexplicably excluded as an alternative in the CRWS.
? FKAA analysis used a 20 year life span in its analysis of pressure versus gravity. The problem with this analysis is that while a grinder pump system only has a life of 20-30 years, after which its main components must be replaced, a gravity system can last 100 years. When one does a 40 year analysis, it shows the LPS design will be $30 million more expensive.ii
? Maintenance costs for a pressure system with grinder pumps is much more expensive. The local WRT salesman and the FKAA Engineer argued that the pumps will last twelve years. The manufacturer says 8-10 between service calls under normal conditionsiii and the EPA says 4-8 years. FKAA is installing this system in the harshest environment that could be imagined. A tropical climate, with windblown salt intrusion, a water table that will keep many grinders partially submerged at all times, and our occasional tropical incursion that will inundate the units. In fact the grinder pump salesman was never able to provide the County Engineer with any real data supporting his position despite numerous requests for hard facts. However, research has unearthed some hard facts.
? A survey of the owners of E-one grinder pumps in a system that was installed years ago provides real data. The dataiv from Sewer Fairness Alliance of Chelmsford, Massachusetts was assembled in October 2013 and shows that only 25% of grinder pumps make it past nine years without service calls. In fact, almost half fail in five years, and this is not the Florida Keys environment.
? There are other problems unique to the Keys. The E-one pumps are not designed to be left un-operated for extended periods. E-one warns that homes unused for two weeks or more should have the system flushed on a regular basis. Some subdivisions in the CRWS have large numbers of part-time residents. Part time use also raises questions about minimum flow requirements needed to keep the small diameter lines from plugging. FKAA is already experiencing problems with plugged lines in the areas they installed grinders just recently. There are issues with required easements and a potential legal question on the impact on mortgage documents as well as the impact on property values since homes for sale with grinder pumps must have that information disclosed.
? However, the greatest concern is that our effort to improve our environment through an improved sewage collection and treatment system may actually be a failure. The hundreds of miles of pipe and the thousands of grinder containment units are made of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), with pipes ranging in size from 2” to 8” that will be buried 2’ to 4’ under the surface with pressures of 15psi to 60psi and 30” by 60” vessels that are buried five feet deep. It is a fact, confirmed by the Plastic Pipe Institute of America itself that all HDPE pipe will get brittle over time, particularly when exposed to chlorine and salts. When a pipe or vessel in the pressure system cracks or breaks it is almost impossible to identify the leak. The porous limestone makeup of the Lower Keys and the water table that is only a few feet below the surface will cause nay leaking sewage to go right to our local waters. Gravity and vacuum systems are also made of HDPE but they are failsafe in that when they leak, the water flows into the system not
out. It is inevitable that there will be leaks from cracking and breaks due to sink holes, road vibration, accidental drilling, and the incredible force on lift stations and grinder units during a tidal surge.
The City of Cape Coral was facing a similar issue of needing an expanded sewage collection system a few years ago and did a very thorough engineering analysis of all alternatives. The table below says it all. County Commissioners and FKAA Board members, this is the last chance to get this system right. It may be impossible to reverse the project with a completely new design, however, the number of grinder pumps at homes can be reduced to the minimum, based on engineering requirements rather than a cost based decision tree. If this system is the disaster that some predict, it will be your legacy and our burden.
2 Based on equivalent annual cost including the amortized construction costs, O&M costs, impact fees, and salvage
values. Note: Small diameter refers to a small diameter gravity system which is not allowed in Florida.
Evaluation of Wastewater, Collection Alternatives, Alternative Wastewater Systems Study, City of Cape Coral, Florida, Department of Public Works, June 2007 by Greely and Hansen Engineers; http://www.news-press.com/assets/pdf/A476189611.PDF
i Walt Drabinski, President of Vantage Energy Consulting LLC and founder of the Sir Isaac Newton Coalition has been opining on the CRWS morass for over one year and has reviewed tens of thousands of pages of technical document, developed numerous financial models and had meeting and communicated with thousands of citizens and public officials. While he does not offer himself as an expert in wastewater design, he does have over 40 years experience working with over 150 utilities throughout North America. This includes working on the design, installation and then having responsibility for a complex sewage system at huge power plant in the early 1970’s where he installed and then maintained many grinder pumps and lift stations. He has also worked on eleven major projects with water/wastewater utilities, has provided oversight on over $15 billion of construction projects and testified as to the prudency of almost $25 billion in projects.
ii An analysis performed when there was a plan for 2,800 grinders in homes showed a $30 million savings over the life of the system. This analysis is available at www.newtoncoalition.com
iii E/One Sewer Systems, Product Overview; 8-10 years between service calls. http://www.linkedin.com/company/correct-equipment/e-one-sewer-systems-206232/product
iv See web site and links http://sfa-chelmsford.org/

And here something from Banks Prevatt to the county commissioners, aqueduct authority officials, and some local journlaists 

Bgprevatt@?aol.com (Bgprevatt@aol.com)

To: boccdis1@monroecounty-fl.gov, boccdis2@monroecounty-fl.gov, boccdis3@monroecounty-fl.gov, boccdis4@monroecounty-fl.gov, boccdis5@monroecounty-fl.gov
Cc: tappell@fkaa.com, bbarroso@fkaa.com, jrdean@fkaa.com, dritz@fkaa.com, mwagner@fkaa.com, kzuelch@fkaa.com, wilson-kevin@monroecounty-fl.gov, bigpinenews@aol.com, news@us1radio.com, tohara@keysnews.com, pclarin@keysnews.com

To: Monroe County Board of County Commissioners
Copy: Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority Board of Director
Copy: Monroe County Engineering Department
Copy & BCC: Others

From: Banks Prevatt, for Dump the Pumps, Inc.


To our request for documents the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority responded quite adequately with useful information, and we appreciate that. Other information that seems to have come from the office of County Engineer Wilson was also useful and appreciated. A preliminary review of the information provided raises many questions. A few of these are numerated below with no particular priority.

As to specific design changes and costs: A random tab was selected for scrutiny- Big Pine South in Basin K.

1. The photo index map of areas appears to be mismarked. Big Pine South, Basin K appears to be the Flea market and Big Pine Charter School on the photo, which is not likely the area in question, with 65 connections of 1 EDU each. Are the others correct?

2. It appears 629 more feet of gravity main was added than there was 2 inch grinder force main to begin with.

3. Interesting numbers on the credit for grinder pump station credit. The deduction is $2925. The charge for additional was $7400 plus contract additions of $436 equals $7836. What happened to $4911 per grinder pump station. This for 65 connections is $319,215. Lost somewhere, also, are the costs or values of the telemetry and generator connectors.

4. Overhead is already included in the unit prices and should not be a line item addition.

5. A design/build fee was added at line 57 after already adding a design fee at line 37. This is only a 65 connection modification on an existing plan and is a simple design change.

6. Contingency should not be a pay item and, therefore, is not suitable for inclusion in a system price comparison.

7. The charge for installing 2 inch grinder pump force main is $23. To not install it the credit is $21. $2 per foot times many feet is a lot of money.

8. Lift stations are billed at $126,000 each. Another contractor installs the same station for $100,000. The mini-lift stations used in Marathon in all likelihood cost considerably less and probably work just fine.

9. Dewatering wells at $33,000 per unit are questionable when considering they are not essential to every situation.

A comment: No value is given for costs of permits required of the homeowner and costs of a 30 AMP dedicate electrical circuit for grinder pumps. These are system costs inequitably transferred to grinder customers. The unknown value of the land easement used for pump placement is a system costs borne by the grinder customer. This value unknown today will become know with future property appraisals.

An observation: Bid documents seem to call for a sole source pump — the E-1 Grinder. If this holds true, there is a problem with Chapter 62-503 Florida Administrative Code which is a supplemental condition of the contract. Chapter 62-503 prohibits sole sourcing and requires public transparency and participation in the design.


That’s all for today.

work mule


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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