FKAA trims sewer meet

By Steve Estes

What was supposed to be a meeting for everyone on Big Pine Key regarding the coming installation of wastewater treatment systems has been scaled back to just one region.

The Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority had scheduled a public meeting for Thursday, Nov. 7 at 6 Vineyard Christian Church on County Road in Big Pine Key for property owners on that island to get a look at what may have been final design plans for sewer treatment collection pipes on the island.

But with the Board of County Commissioners decision last Wednesday to convert nearly 900 properties from low-pressure grinder pumps to gravity pipes on Big Pine, the meeting has been scaled back to just the folks in in the Region 1 North area.

That area is bounded by Big Pine Street on the south, encompassing all of Koehn Subdivision area to the east and north to Port Pine Heights.

That is the one area where the BOCC approved no changes as yet.

The BOCC approved the conversion to gravity for Doctor’s Arm, Eden Pines and the Big Pine north and south basins, necessitating re-design of those areas.

According to the FKAA website, new service maps aren’t yet available so the informational session for the changed areas has been canceled to a later date.

FKAA officials plan to outline what areas in Region 1 North will be serviced by low-pressure grinder pumps and how those pumps will be configured.

Residents in that area have already received their requests for easement from FKAA. The easement is needed to allow contractors and then FKAA crews to access properties to first install the grinder pumps and then maintain them in the future.

Each property owner is being asked to outline where they want their specific system to be located on the lot and where the pipe should connect to the collection line in the street.

FKAA is also asking for an additional five feet of easement on each side of that pipe to allow access for crews and equipment for the installation and later maintenance of the grinder pumps.

When selecting a site for the pump, FKAA asks that the pipe run be free of permanent obstructions and that later property owners don’t plant rigid root trees at the pump site or along the pipe run.

According to the easement request, the remainder of the lot can be developed as the property owner sees fit within the guidelines of the county’s growth management rules and building codes.

According to the county’s planning department, because the pumps will be underground, homeowners do not have to worry about side or back yard setbacks when choosing a pump location.

FKAA says it needs a space large enough for a four-foot round by five-foot deep hole to install the pump and the holding tank apparatus, along with the necessary easement footage

Officials will be on hand to answer questions concerning the future operation and maintenance of the pump systems, as well as the responsibilities of the homeowner in pre-installation requirements.

Each property will have to install a 30-amp, 220-volt power line to the outside wall of the house nearest the chosen pump location. FKAA contractors will be responsible for installing the power panel for the pump system to the house wire from the box.

The homeowner will be responsible for a four-inch drain pipe from the home’s primary outlet to the pump cavity, as well as hooking up both the house end and the pump end.

FKAA has said it will be responsible for hooking the pump to the collection pipe in the street, including the length of pipe run needed to get to the street from the pump location.

Requesting a changeover from low-pressure to gravity systems is a movement that has been gaining steam in recent weeks, although after the last changes by the BOCC, the commissioners said they wouldn’t be very willing to entertain further changes in pipe style unless the cost per equivalent dwelling unit could be brought in under the going average of about $18,000 per EDU.

The first pipes ready to accept effluent flow on Big Pine aren’t expected to hit the island until late 2015. The state has set December 31, 2015 as the deadline for Monroe County to have enhanced wastewater treatment systems on line.

County and FKAA officials have said that getting all 8,000-plus EDUs in the Cudjoe Regional system, of which Big Pine is a part, hooked into collection pipes won’t happen, but that it is possible without further delays that the collection system will be ready to accept hook ups from properties.

For further information, propety owners can research at or through the website under wastewater projects.

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