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I didn’t puglish anything yesterday. I put up something personal at goodmorningbirmingham.com, then nap dreams caused me to take it down. I imagine it has been years since I went a day without publishing something online. Today’s post is the 2,499th at goodmorningkeywest.com, since it was started in July 2007. The oldest of the three websites: goodmorningkeywest.com, goodmorningfloridakeys.com, goodmorningbirmingham.com.
Banks Prevatt of Little Torch Key and www.dumpthepumps.com sent yesterday:
To: The Steering Committee of the Water Quality Protection Program for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary:
From: Citizens concerned about water quality and the National Marine Sanctuary.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We all know the Florida Keys sit on the edge of one of the most fabulous treasures in all of North America – a fragile Coral Reef. A government mandate 15 to 20 years ago to put the Florida Keys on a municipal sewer system, supposedly, had to do with the quality of inshore and offshore water here in the Keys.
Inshore – the quality of our canals and purity of our few beaches.
Offshore – save the reef.
It is incomprehensible that 15 years later, the Florida Keys would construct a sewer system that would not measure up to the best technology that money could buy. Instead, we are installing a system of questionable design and function that has been bastardized by squeezing dollars out of a system that originally was of a superior design.
The resulting hybrid sewer system, a mixture of desirable gravity and less desirable low pressure grinder pumps, currently being installed in the Lower Keys is not the intent of the mandate to have all the Keys on central sewer by 2015. While grinder pumps are an approved technology, the high numbers of them are not what was intended and are only one “level” better than septic tanks for the environment under ideal situations. Chart is from the Cape Coral Engineering Study which is available at:
Comparative Rankings of Alternatives
Alternative Cost Environment Reliability Permitting Homeowner
Gravity 4 1 1 1 1
Vacuum 2 3 4 1 2
Small Diam. 3 2 3 6 3
LP – Grinder 6 5 6 1 6
LP – STEP 5 4 5 1 3
On-Site (Septic) 1 6 1 5 5
Note: 1 = Best Rank and 6 = Worst Rank
As we know, nothing engineered ever remains ideal and we should be exercising precaution when it comes to near shore water quality. While Monroe County is empowered to make the decision, they made the decision based on lowest cost and short term thinking. Monroe County has every right to make that decision, although since maximizing gravity connections is the best for the environment, we ask the Water Quality group, which is designed to improved water quality in the Keys, to support a sewer system that minimizes the use of grinders.
Specific Issues and Concerns:
1. The Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority (FKAA) cannot possibly maintain service with so many pumps during a significant power outage. The result will be overflows of the pump stations, shower drains, lift stations and manholes. The pumps work at such a slow flow rate that FKAA has underestimated how long each will take to pump down and overestimated how many they can pump in a day. From the 01/31/14 Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting, the Key West Citizen quotes a FKAA engineer as saying that FKAA can pump 100 per day. In that case, they should have no more than 100 in the system.
2. The inevitable pipe leaks that exist and develop in any system will inject raw sewage under pressure underground in gravel bedding that will serve as a french drain to a good coral tunnel to nearby Outstanding Waters. Unlike gravity or vacuum sewer system, which leak inward and which are easily localized, pressure mains leak outward and are virtually undetectable. Pressure piping must be minimized, not maximized.
3. The pumping flow rates are not adequate to re-suspend solids and grease that separate from the waste stream and stick to the walls of the many forcemains, both collector and transmission mains. The forcemains were designed to achieve a minimal scouring velocity during peak flow periods, but even then, because the flow is intermittent, solids and grease will come out of suspension, and a stronger flow than is possible with the selected pumps is necessary to re-suspend deposits.
Likewise, the flow velocity is not adequate to carry along sewer gasses that will be generated. Gasses will accumulate wherever the forcemains run downhill or dive under roads, culverts, or water mains where there is not an air release valve on the upstream side. These locations are many, and when these forcemains air-lock, there will be an artificial excessive head condition created. The E-1 grinders specified are capable of pressures exceeding the test pressure of the piping, but even if the pumps do not burst the pipes, the service crews may do so in their efforts to push through the blockage. When the pipe splits, the gravel bedding will take the flow, becoming a French drain for raw sewage to seek Florida Outstanding Waters. The service crew may be oblivious to the fact they have broken the pipe- they see a pressure drop and presume they have cleared the blockage. They will have actually established a long cesspit trench that will contaminate the environment for many years to come with nutrients and pathogens in an undetectable manner. A grinder pump based low pressure sewer is not suitable for the Florida Keys.
4. Because the original Wastewater Master Plan was aborted in favor of a single central sewage treatment plant, raw septic sewage will be pushed underneath two major ocean channels.
The original design called for a protective casing around the sewer forcemain pipe under these navigable channels. That design was also aborted in favor of no casing at all. The reason given for not using a casing was that the casings on other projects had worn through due to vibration and movement. Now that there is no casing at all, the forcemain itself will be rubbing on rock and there will be no way to discover a leak and no way to pull a replacement pipe through. The forcemain will be injecting sewage of a lower specific gravity than the salt water, so it will rise through porous coral strata into the channels with their strong tidal currents to distribute the untreated waste with its nutrients and pathogens. This is not an improvement over cesspits and certainly not over septic tanks.
It is our hope that you will consider a resolution that indicates your group’s commitment to water quality and to openly support a sewage system that reduces the chances of sewage entering the environment.
On behalf of a number of concerned citizens,
BCC to about 150
Brett also sent out:
For those that have followed this chatter about the meeting tomorrow of the Water Quality Protections Program for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Steering Committee, in Marathon, here is what I know.
There is an agenda item at 9:15 in the morning that discusses water quality and sewers in the Lower Keys. There is an agenda item at 3:30 in the afternoon that opens up public comment. I asked this past Friday in to allow discussion at 9:15 or to move the sewer/water quality in the Lower Keys to the afternoon. At this point, I have not had a response.
Walt Drabinski and I will be there before the 9:15 item. If allowed, Walt will speak. I emailed a position statement to the committee members late this afternoon, and Walt plans to have his report as a handout for the members prior to the meeting. I copied all of you on my statement and Walt’s is attached.
Any of you that are free are certainly encouraged to be there. Our numbers make a statement. I apologize for such late fuzzy notice, but I have been pressing since last week to get a time slot for us to be heard. We are working on an assumption they will hear us in the morning.
If you do show up and plan to speak (If we are allowed) focus your comments on water quality, leaking sewage and the likes. A discussion of property rights and grinder pumps in your yard will fall on deaf ears. Leaking lines under pressure and raw sewage backing up in your yard as the grinder tank overflows during an electrical failure may strike a cord.
I think cost is also an important issue. From all I have heard and read, in the long run a gravity system is considerable cheaper than a grinder system, especially for the homeowner, due to grinder pumps needing maitenance, repairs and replacing, cost of which, from what I have read and heard, end up getting displaced onto property owners by local governments and local utilities. The fellow who bought my place on Little Torch Key last August discounted what he was willing to pay me because my place was slated to get a grinder pump. At the recent county commission meeting, commissioners ignored in some cases, phoo phooed in other cases, citizen comments that grinder pumps will cost them more in the long run, and that grinder pumps will decrease the value of their property. I don’t know what universe the county commissioners live in, but it is not one where people have a lick of cents or give a shit about the environment.
Looking at this another way, if grinder pumps really are cheaper than and as environmentally and mechanically sound as gravity, the county commissioners would have told Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority to use grinder pumps exclusively in the Cudjoe Regional sewer system. Any other county commission mandate would have been a blatant waste of taxpayer dollars and malfeasance.
Hatman of Key West sent:
To: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: the Eimers case
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2014 12:23:33 -0500
hi folks. this is directed to both thebluepaper and Sloan because all of you are concerned, and rightfully so, about the Eimers case. I can’t believe more people in KW aren’t up in arms over this issue and raising hell with whomever can possibly get the investigation moving.
So I have a suggestion that I’d to broach to all parties — and this is to recruit enough people who will carry a petition clipboard and stand on a Duval Street intersection and secure signatures of locals and tourists alike, asking the US Justice Dept (and whoever else would be appropriate) to investigate Mr. Eimers’s death. I envision every corner would have 2 people, one on each side of Duval, asking people to sign; it would take up to 20 people each day to be at every intersection from Front St. to Truman. Hopefully the people would stay for as long as possible. and when they leave have a replacement ready. Perhaps if this were to become a reality, the city commission and or the KWPD would do something, but at the very least we, the petition people, would be letting the world know that KW is NOT the paradise so many seem to think it is.
I envision a campaign of at least several weeks to a month in duration, if at all possible, and then the results are shipped to the appropriate agency.
I bring this idea to you because you folks have the avenue to help recruit the clipboard holders; you have the audience to make the city aware of the movement to do this.
Rodd, the Key West Hatman
I replied to Rodd with copy to the blue paper:
Hi, Rodd -
Might be the the Eimers family has the best chance of getting the Feds involved. A grassroots local protest on city sidewalks might stir the pot some, perhaps a national news TV program might cover it. I imagine the blue paper has more readers, than I, who might be interested in such a protest. The silence of the mayor and city commissioners on Charles Eimers’ death is deafening. But then, Eimers was suspected of living in his van, and based on that assumption, how it went down was in keeping with Key West’s view- attitude toward bums. The city’s karma might not be pretty, but then, karma is not factored into Bubba Justice’s thinking.
When Key West amigo Patrick the Terminator asked what thought about the Key West City Commission, I said, collectively, the mayor and city commissioners are incompetent, impotent. Like me, when I play chess against Patrick.