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Banks Prevatt of Dump the Pumps, Inc. – www.dumpthepumps.com – forwarded yesterday to his massive dump the pumps email list:
FYI: Gary’s trying to stir up some news media interest.
From: Gary firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Lower Florida Keys, a sewer prescription for disaster?
Date: April 10, 2014 6:49:13 AM EDT
I met you several years ago when the USFW Key Deer Refuge was killing cats and raccoons, burning the refuge and cutting coconut palms at Bahia Honda park, you interviewed my wife Paula and I.
Now we have a much larger issue on our hands involving the lower keys sewer system. It seems our Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) have allegedly misappropriated or otherwise squandered the funds that were collected from a tax we have all been paying for years for this project as well as money paid by the state for a proper gravity sewer system. Our commissioners don’t want to pay for most of Big Pine Key and several lower keys to be on the best system “Gravity” they would rather put this money towards their pet projects like buying a marina, stained glass windows in a fire house or rebuilding a walking bridge even when this sewer project has already been delayed and state mandated. They have decided on what they feel is a “lower cost” system using a grinder pumps which are flawed at best and have already failed and been replaced in other parts of Florida. This is far from a cheap way out when it will need replacing after the next storm surge or sooner.
This system uses individual grinder pumps installed at each home and relies on electricity to activate the pump in order to grind up the sewage and then force it under pressure to another grinder pump which forces it eventually into the correct “gravity type” sewer system which all of the Keys should be on.
These individual “Grinder pump” systems don’t work without electricity and can back up into homes in a power outage or storm surge and have been the cause of many major sewage spills throughout the country, with victims of hurricane Sandy being one of the most recent events.
There was a suit a few years ago on the west coast of florida where the local citizens were able to prevent the system (grinder) from being installed.
It appears the BOCC purchased a large amount of these pumps several years ago and are slowly trying to pawn them off on the lower keys as most of the upper keys have rejected them, Cudjoe Key was able to stop them from being installed as they were able to act as one community.
Unfortunately the BOCC are privy to these events and are withholding planning information and only notifying certain subdivisions at a time in order to “divide and conquer”.
Knowing there is litigation looming the BOCC have been postponing depositions and hearings while they are installing these pumps at a frenzied pace. My assumption is they are getting the pumps in the ground so they can say “well they are already installed now, what do you expect us to do?”
The average repair costs to these pumps average about $4500 and we are being told it will remain the responsibility of Monroe County for maintenance and repairs. Certain homes in Key Largo were forced to install the grinder pumps and after about 1 year they were told that the county is no longer responsible for them and the individual homeowner is now responsible for the maintenance and repair of the units.
We also are required to install a dedicates 220V 30 Amp circuit to run the pumps at the homeowners cost. Many of the older homes down here do not have the electrical service in their homes to support these pumps and will incur a much larger cost to install them.
We began with an open dialogue with the County Commissioners especially George Neugent, he was civil at first but has now moved into what I can only describe as childish responses, many of which are posted on our website.
These type of sewer systems are known to leak underground as are most pressurized systems, (Water etc), with no way of monitoring the flow the leaks will go undetected and force raw sewage underground effectively undermining the entire reasoning for installing the sewers in the first place. At least our existing systems (septic and aerobic),although far from adequate at least release “treated sewage” rather than raw.
My personal beliefs is knowing this is a less than desirable system there must be a kickback somewhere in the history of the purchase of such a large amount of these pumps.
Don’t get us wrong, we are all for a proper sewage system, even at a higher expense but for that expense we want what will be the best possible system to protect our fragile eco-system and our homes.
We do have a website active but we really need some larger exposure and we could use your help.
I wrote to ALL:
A second letter:
1. As I understand it, grinder pump lines are laid shallow, above the shallow saltwater table, and when grinder pump lines leak, and they will leak, they spew raw sewerage outward into the dirt/sand around them, because the hydrostatic pressure in the line is greater than the external hydrostatic pressure; the escaped raw sewerage then makes its way through the limestone bedrock into the saltwater table, and then into the canals, lagoons, bays and ocean; and grinder leaks are undetectable and cannot, thus, be repaired; whereas gravity system lines also spring leaks, but since they are buried deep, below the shallow saltwater table, the external hydrostatic water pressure is greater than the internal hydrostatic pressure and the saltwater leaks into the sewer line and sewerage does not escape, and gravity line leaks can be detected and repaired; so when grinder pump lines start leaking, and they will, they are no different from what we now have in most places, which is septic and cess pits, which are to be replaced.
2. Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority is the county government’s partner in sewering Cudjoe Regional Sewer System, which runs from Big Pine to some distance below Cudjoe Key, where the sewerage treatment plant is being built to receive and treat all of those islands’ sewerage. FKAA’s first sewer design was gravity wherever feasible; some places only grinder pumps would work, due to distance from sewer mains, being below main sewer line grade, being too low residential density to justify gravity. The County Commission rejected that plan because it was too expensive, and told FKAA to come back with a cheaper plan, which FKAA did, instead of saying no, we think our plan is best, find the money to pay for it. For FKAA did not want what it eventually designed, and has said so since then at public meetings, and elsewhere. The County Commission knows this and pretends it has come up with a cheaper and as environmentally good a sewer system as FKAA’s first proposed sewer system.
3. We know the County Commission does not believe grinder pumps are as good as gravity, because if the commissioners did believe that, they would have required grinder pumps on every piece of inhabited property in Cudjoe Regional, and everywhere else the County Commission could make that call, because the commissioners had an affirmative duty to save taxpayer money, not waste it on a more expensive gravity system, which was no better environmentally. We also know county commissioners did not believe grinder pumps were superior to gravity, because the areas below Big Pine, where communities banded together and protested gravity, the County Commission gave them gravity wherever it was feasible; had the county commissioners believed grinder pumps were superior, they would have given those neighborhoods grinder pumps wherever feasible to save taxpayer money.
4. The County’s engineer, Kevin Wilson, a chemical engineer with no wastewater treatment background before this was dumped on him, said in a meeting at FKAA in Key West, which I and a number of Dump the Pumps members attended, that the system being installed was a robust system, it was fully funded, as required by the Infrastructure Sales Tax Referendum, and it would be unconscionable for the County Commission to be required to spend more money on Cudjoe Regional, instead of use new Infrastructure Sales Tax proceeds to fund other county projects. After Kevin was done talking, Bob Dean, Chairman of FKAA’s Board of Directors, all of whom were appointed by Governor Rick Scott, or by his predecessor Charlie Crist, looked past Kevin at the audience and said: FKAA prefers gravity and will install it if the County Commission will pay for it.
5. That was late last year. Since then, FKAA has been moving ASAP to implement its second choice in sewer systems in Cudjoe Regional, which it does not prefer. FKAA’s CEO Kurt Zeulch, formerly FKAA in house legal counsel, and other FKAA employees can no longer be trusted to tell the truth, either. FKAA is the general contractor for Cudjoe Regional; it sub-contracted the installation out to private wastewater contractors. FKAA has very little experience with grinder pumps. It has nowhere near the manpower to deal with a Hurricane Wilma event, which covered the lower Keys with 3 feet of seawater and knocked power out for two weeks. FKAA says people getting grinder pumps all should get generators and connect them to their homes, businesses, to make sure they have electricity during blackouts. With gravity, they need not worry about their sewer line during black out, because it’s gravity-propelled and the pumping stations along the mains have back up generators which kick in automatically during power outage and FKAA has employees dedicated to seeing to it that those pumping stations stay in operation during power outage.
6. The truth is, the County Commission decided it wanted other things besides the best sewer system for Cudjoe Regional. The truth is, how to prove it is the rub, somebody is getting paid off. There is no other possible explanation for using an inferior sewer system which will end up injuring the environment and costing more money, which will be on FKAA to operate and take care of and repair until the end of time, unless it bails and gives it to the grinder pump company to run, or to someone else, which ain’t all that unlikely a possibility after FKAA sees the shit hitting the fan, and hitting the fan, and hitting the fan.
Some background on me. I used to practice law in Alabama. I ran three times for the county commission down here, twice against George Neugent (2006, 2010) and I ran in 2008 for a Key West county commission seat when I was living down there. I know all five present county commissioners, and they know me. I now live in Key West again, and have no property or sewer dog in this fight, nor any county commission dog. I’m involved in something else in Key West, just as grubby, which, if interested, you can read all about daily at www.goodmorningkeywest.com.
Banks replied, blind-copied to his massive dump the pumps email list:
Sloan joins the fray.
I replied to Banks:
Hoping to entice broader media coverage, but I still think it’s gonna take a US District Judge to turn this mess around. I hope there won’t be much further delay putting this there, or at least in a state court.
Bank replied, but he asked me to keep a lid on it, so a lid is on it.
There is a different post today at www.goodmorningkeywest.com, which you should be able to reach by clicking on this link: Key West crown jewels hidden in plain view, including the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but there are far worse things than being homeless