Property Owner Associations Offer Settlement Over Shallow Well Operations at Cudjoe Regional

The two property owners associations challenging the use of shallow wells at the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System treatment facility today submitted an offer to settle their litigation. The settlement offer by Cudjoe Gardens and Sugarloaf Shores property owners associations would allow for limited use of the shallow wells during construction of the required deep injection well and as a backup to that system so long as the use is kept low and additional water quality monitoring is conducted to ensure the safety of groundwater and nearshore waters.

“We note that although recent tests found that it is appropriate to use the shallow wells for startup and backup, it is silent on the impact on surface water of using the shallow wells for full flows. Given the slowdown in completion of the sewer system, we believe it is possible to use the shallow wells while the flows remain low,” Cudjoe Gardens POA President Larry Francisco said. “We have a chance to put this litigation behind us and let FKAA focus its attention on completing the project.”

The POAs’ offer would allow the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority to issue invitations to connect to the sewer system unless monitoring indicates the effluent is rising to the shallow waters surrounding the Cudjoe Key plant and adjoining landfill.

“Although the property owners associations’ case is strong and our geologist takes issue with the conduct of the recent well tests and the interpretation of the results as it relates to full operational flows, the POAs believe that a plan can be put in place to move forward while the deep well is being built,” said Sugarloaf Shores POA President Chuck Licis.

“By restricting the use of the shallow wells to very low flows, the settlement plan would not only protect the surface waters, but also create an incentive for FKAA to speed up the deep well. The 2009 permits called for a deep well in the future, and the funding to start the deep well process has been available since last year. It is time to get this job done,” Francisco said.

A Florida Department of Administrative Hearings officer is scheduled to hear the case in late October. A settlement would eliminate the need for that hearing, delay in the plant startup and the risk to taxpayers of extended legal cost as well as the potential cost for a second deep well to serve as a backup. The proposed agreement would also extend the period required for property connections to 365 days beyond startup with the deep injection well as opposed to the current requirement of one year following the invitation to connect.

Last week, commercial fishermen Don DeMaria and Mike Laudicina withdrew their lawsuit with FKAA, Monroe County and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection over the state permit needed to open the treatment plant.

“It is unfortunate that the attorney for the commercial fishermen had to withdraw due to a tragic medical condition. The POA petitioners believe the law is on our side and are hopeful that we can work out the details of a settlement with FKAA that will secure the protections for which we all have been fighting,” Licis added.

4 thoughts on “Property Owner Associations Offer Settlement Over Shallow Well Operations at Cudjoe Regional

  1. That is unfortunate. The recent shallow well tests were a fraud. They are not at all safe to use.
    Of course FKAA would agree to a year after the deep well to hook up because they start collecting the sewer charge after 30 days! Without pumping or treating the sewage! Talk about a gold mine- this is the mother lode! Charging for sewage that is not collected, pumped or treated has got to be illegal. That needs to be stopped now.

  2. From what I understand, the recent shallow well tests were meaningless because they just looked for changes in the level of the groundwater table. Since they did not use dye, they could not check for contamination of the ground water. The previous tests with dye did show this contamination, and also demonstrated the leaching of existing contamination from the old landfill. And we know that the ground water freely exchanges with the near-shore ocean water, contaminants and all.

    It is indeed unfortunate that it appears that the Cudjoe and Sugarloaf POA’s are caving in to the FKAA’s unwise plan. I wonder why that might be?

    And whatever happened to “gravity systems for everyone”? Now that the low quality, high maintenance low pressure systems are in place, I suppose we will just have to wait until they fail to the point of no repair to get the superior gravity systems that should have been done in the first place. Until then it will be more time wasted, more money spent, and more dead ocean as the tragic result.

  3. This morning on US 1 radio Commissioner Neugent said he would prefer to see the court cases play out and not have the FKAA agree to any conditions. Wonder how that will play out . Wish the meeting would be televised as this should be interesting seeing who’s the boss, and whether anyone wants to have the truth come out.

  4. How are they going to restrict FKAA to a very low flow? Will the HOA police be monitoring? How long before the HOAs realize that you can’t negotiate in good faith with the devil?
    Dr. Briceno’s testing used only about a 2/3 annual average day flow run continuously, and they saw the salt water exchanged for fresh effluent. The sham WSA test used little shots of water with big recovery times between. They falsified data in the report. They might blame that on ineptness, but showing all flows as maximum instead of average shows intent to deceive. So does claiming that the wastewater effluent meets all primary drinking water standards! Well then, screw the wells! Who needs them? If it meets all drinking water standards, let’s just pump it into the potable pipe and let Cudjoe residents drink it! (You just can’t make this stuff up! Yes, the claim is in the report.)
    When someone pointed out at the public meeting last night that FKAA’s other plants sometimes see 5 times their design capacity, Walt Schwartz, project manager for the Cudjoe Regional, said that the plant will never go much over capacity because the collection system pumps can’t pump it! That’s what Dump the Pumps., Inc has been saying for two years! Don’t worry about minimally treated wastewater at the plant going down a shallow well like at Baypoint and Big Coppitt and Key Haven. Worry about the raw sewage that can’t even make it to the plant!

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