Clarification: The Challenge to Cudjoe Regional Shallow Injection Well Permit

Concerning your Guest Editorial by Harry Powell:

Thank you very much for your guest editorial in The Blue Paper about the problems with shallow sewage wells at Cudjoe Regional. I think it’s really important to make these issues public, so I appreciate very much the time you’ve spent to do that.

But you’ve overlooked a very important fact.

The two property owners groups you mentioned are not the only challengers to the shallow wells at Cudjoe Regional, so the fact that they are now working with DigDeepCudjoe to try to convince FKAA to settle the legal challenge in exchange for some water quality studies – which are already required by FDEP anyway – instead of the deep well required by Florida law, does not mean that settlement is going to happen. Continue reading

GUEST EDITORIAL: The Real Story Behind the Resistance to Deep Well Wastewater Disposal

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As a member of Dump the Pumps and worrying that the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System [CRWS] is deeply flawed, I have been privy to documents and people associated with the group and some people you might want to call “whistleblowers” who are FKAA employees or contractors. Here’s some of what I have gleaned from these sources:

~~Harry Powel

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The Cudjoe Regional Wastewater treatment plant currently under construction at the Cudjoe landfill has been challenged for its intended use of shallow injection wells for effluent disposal​. There are a couple of property owner associations that fund the Dig Deep Cudjoe group that was formed to fight for deep well disposal of the partially treated wastewater​. Rumor suggests that they may believe that FKAA is looking for a way to say to the County, “The science says we need a deep well.” Hence their optimism arising from FKAA’s offer to do a baseline study and 5 year monitoring near the Cudjoe treatment plant. That way ​FKAA can save face and begin deep well design and construction as if they are being environmentally responsible. Ha!

The motives and agenda of FKAA may be very different than what the POAs imagine. There may be still more trickery and deceit involved, as many have come to expect from FKAA.​ Consider the following…​ Continue reading

The Keys’ Dirty Little Secret

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According to some irritated homeowners, two lower Florida Keys sewage treatment plant operators are playing dirty tricks in their permit applications to inject over a million gallons a day of sewage into shallow injection wells on Cudjoe Key and Stock Island.

They claim that FKAA is using unrealistic old data projections from 2008, advertised it’s legal notices to Monroe County residents in Lee and Broward Counties and would have you believe that “we drink water worse than we‘re producing with Advanced Wastewater Treatment. [Actual quote from County Commissioner David Rice.]

On June 25th a group of Cudjoe area homeowners filed an administrative petition challenging FKAA’s permit for the Cudjoe plant followed last Tuesday by environmental group Last Stand’s challenge against the privately owned Key West Resort Utility Corporation permit for their Stock Island plant. Continue reading

GUEST COLUMN: Grinder Pumps For Dummies – Or Why I Don’t Want To Be A Loser

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If you live in the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System area, you need to read the “Dummies Guide To Grinder Pumps”.  If you are a “loser” as our County Commisioner has called all who are getting grinder pumps, you should read it very slowly.

DESCRIPTION OF A GRINDER PUMP

Dummy Version – The greatest invention since ice cream.  To quote our Mayor, “when you flush it goes away”, what else can you ask for?

Real Version – A system in which sewage flows from gravity into a heavy duty plastic tank.  The tank is about 180 gallons just over one day of waste for a typical family.  It has a one horsepower motor that turns grinder blades similar to a garbage disposal in your sink.  A progressive cavity pump then forces the sewage into a 1 1/4” pipe which leads to master stations or the treatment plant on Cudjoe Key. Continue reading

We All Want A Good System and Good Water Quality, As Promised…

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Some may try painting Dump The Pumps, Inc as being “against sewers”; that the group is simply trying to be disruptive and aims to bring all sewer construction to a stop.

Wrong!  We all want a good system and good water quality, as promised when we passed the one cent infrastructure sales tax.

Anyone that has attended the various meetings, followed the chatter, asked questions, donated money, signed the petitions knows that the fight is simple.  A substandard sewer system, mandated by politicians rather than engineers, putting grinder pumps in our yards, threatening our nearshore waters, is the fight.  Do not forget the original system, designed by engineers, was a gravity system.  It was not until the politicians got involved that we saw sewer money diverted to pet projects and a cheapened system thrust upon us. Continue reading

Reef Relief Urges Keys-Wide Wastewater Reuse Plan / Adamant That Laws Be Obeyed During Planning, Permitting, and Construction

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Reef Relief continues our work of using the best available science to educate the public and policymakers to achieve conservation, protection, and restoration of coral reef ecosystems.

The most critical issue facing all of us today is water quality. We fight to combat pollution in our oceans and negative effects of climate change, but without clean water, all of our work with regard to restoration and conservation are only delaying the loss of our coral reef ecosystems.

This is why Reef Relief, along with many other local, state, federal and private entities, have worked so hard toward creating a Keys-wide sewer system. We should all be proud of the work we have accomplished in this matter. Reef Relief would like to thank everyone involved in the implementation of the Keys-wide sewer system. It is imperative that our inefficient septic tanks are no longer allowed to leach human waste into our near shore waters. We would also like to thank all homeowners for cooperating with this process, as we are well aware of the financial burden. Continue reading

LAST STAND CALLS FOR DEEP INJECTION WELL AT CUDJOE WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT

 

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Last Stand announced on Wednesday that it is strongly opposed to disposal of treated sewage into shallow wells at the as yet unfinished Cudjoe Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant.

In letters to DEP, FKAA and each Monroe County Commissioner, the Keyswide environmental group cited state regulations, insufficient treatment and danger to sealife as reasons why the plant should be required to pump its waste 2,500-3,000 feet below the surface into the Boulder Zone.

“DEP requires sewage plants that have the potential to treat one million gallons a day to use deep well disposal,” said Naja Girard, president of Last Stand, a watch-dog group which has operated in the Keys for over 25 years.  “Deep wells receive the partially treated waste water and retain it below solid barriers, while shallow wells allow the fresh water to rise to the surface and move into the nearshore waters,” she added. Continue reading

Guest Column: Cudjoe Sewer System / What Is Everyone Complaining About and How Did We Get Here?

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Why have so many groups been complaining about the Cudjoe sewer system? They insist they don’t want their concerns to slow down the project and they agree that a well designed sewer system will improve water quality in canals and near shore waters. It seems the “well designed” is what they question.  We will get to that but let’s take a moment to remember how we got here.

Back in 2008, the new county administrator looked at the county sewer fund that had been depleted by infrastructure projects like the Hickory House and the Vandenberg. He realized no state or federal funding was in sight and the county was facing a 2010 state mandate to sewer the remaining Keys. The county and FKAA started looking at ways to trim the cost of the estimated $ 200M Cudjoe project in case the county had to fund the whole thing.  A consultant created a decision tree that favored low pressure grinder pumps, and in 2009 the treatment plant capacity was “averaged down” to allow shallow disposal wells. With no money in sight, everyone waited. Continue reading

Guest Column: Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System, a Solution?

For almost a year and a half, I have been arguing that the planned, pressurized wastewater system, using grinder pumps, that is proposed for the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System (CRWS) is uneconomic, unreliable, a burden on homeowners, and a potential environmental nightmare.  Now we learn that the shallow injection well design (120’ deep well) at the treatment plant may be an environmental disaster as well and is probably illegal, if the DEP actually enforces its own regulations.  How did we get to the point; where we are willing to install a system in the fragile environment of the Florida Keys, which may be worse than the septic systems we have now?  The answer is MONEY!!   In the 2006-11 timeframe, when the County and FKAA were being forced by the State and the EPA  to move forward with a sewer system, there were no State funds, the 1% infrastructure tax was to expire in 2018, and estimates for a system serving about 9,000 homes was well over $ 200 million. Continue reading

Betrayed!

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At any other time, it would probably have slipped quietly past us all.  But timing and circumstances were such that members and sympathizers of the grassroots organization Dump the Pumps, Inc. (DTPI) were on high alert, watching for still more sneaky and generally dishonorable Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority (FKAA) activity.

For years, FKAA had residents of the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System (CRWS) region believing the agency’s project to connect their homes to a centralized sewage treatment plant would consist primarily of a gravity fed system with only a minor amount of outliers, out of necessity and due to their remote location, slated to be connected via less reliable low-pressure grinder pump [LPS] systems. Continue reading