Sierra Florida to FDEP: Sarasota wastewater management system is in disarray
Letter from Sierra Club to FDEP regarding Sarasota County's wastewater treatment failures:
Sierra Club Florida supports the original mitigation in FDEP’s draft consent order requiring that Sarasota County upgrade their wastewater treatment plans to meet advanced wastewater treatment (AWT). We oppose Sarasota County’s (County) counter offer to delete this mitigation requirement in favor of connecting more wastewater flows from onsite sewer treatment and disposal systems (OSTDS). In fact, the state of Sarasota County wastewater management system is in such disarray with excessive discharges, nutrient concentrations, and spills that we would support FDEP limiting any additional flows being accepted from OSTDS or new development until the County has at least committed to upgrade to AWT.
Full Letter Here
County must upgrade wastewater facilities - “Sarasota County government conducted an informative, first-rate “summit” on water quality Wednesday, providing elected officials, appointed staffers and members of the public with clear data and inspirational testaments to the value of preserving and protecting the natural environment. But earlier in the week, behind the scenes, the Sierra Club sent the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation a letter that should remind everyone: The county’s actions speak louder than its words at a community gathering. The letter — from Cris Costello, a local manager of the private-sector environmental-protection group, to the DEP — concerns the department’s actions against Sarasota County and failures of the county’s utility system, including spills and discharges of inadequately treated wastewater...Prior to the summit, the County Commission heard a substantive report from its staff on how the quality of treated sewage, stormwater runoff and septic tank discharges can be improved — with a particular focus on reducing the amount of nitrogen in the liquids. The staff cited three main contributors to nitrogen-laden waters: runoff from watersheds; septic systems in areas with high water tables or near waterways; and public wastewater-treatment plants. As we have written previously, each area must be part of any comprehensive approach, but improvements in sewage treatment should be the short-term priority. In light of the DEP’s regulatory actions and a lawsuit over sewage-plant failures, upgrades to AWT (advanced wastewater treatment) would provide a substantial return on financial investments and decreases in nitrogen loads. Yet, according to the Sierra Club’s letter, Sarasota County has offered a counterproposal to the DEP that would make some progress but fail to pursue the AWT standards…” From the Herald-Tribune Editorial Board.
ECOSWF support of Sierra Club Position:
RE: CONSENT ORDER TO SARASOTA COUNTY UTILITIES
Dear Mr. Iglehart,
This correspondence is in SUPPORT OF Sierra Club Florida letter dated June 3, 2019.
The Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida (ECOSWF) submits these additional comments:
1. Under Sarasota County’s Comprehensive Plan, future developments are to be supplied with treated wastewater for outdoor irrigation.
As you may remember, during the “Water Wars” of the 1980s, excess groundwater usage was causing saltwater intrusion and upconing of poorer mineralized water. To combat that problem, reuse water became a commodity rather than a disposal problem. The high nitrogen and phosphorus content was determined to be a “plus”. No studies were conducted to determine the agronomical rates of the vegetation on which the reuse water was applied. Toilets flush several times a day, but grass does not need that volume of water daily.
2. As stated in the Sierra Club’s letter, the nitrogen levels in Sarasota’s bays has increased over the last twenty years as reuse projects continued to come online.
3. Advanced Waste Water Treatment of the waste stream would not only eliminate the excess nitrogen and phosphorus loading but would provide the opportunity for Sarasota County to provide “gray water” lines for all new developments that require reuse water for outdoor irrigation. This would “close the loop’ for reuse water. Having the water generated available for reuse when WWTF are upgraded to AWT in gray lines for toilet use.
Thank you for considering this additional information.
Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida J
With toxic blue-green algae bloom, don't eat Lake Okeechobee fish, Audubon biologist says
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Toxic algae found in Lake Okeechobee and Collier County
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