DEAR FRIENDS OF THE SLUDGE REPORT,
Since 2009, this Sludge Report has been active, warning homeowners about the path our bureaucrats have been pursuing, the total lack of reliable science behind their actions, and the problems with the “solutions” those bureaucrats are mandating. They are still forging ahead.
Thirteen years after publishing our first newsletter, it’s crunch time. The 350,000 homeowners that live with septic systems near designated “Springs Protection Areas” will soon find they are unable to get repair permits to install new drainfields. If their counties do not have an active 5-year plan to install conventional sewers or STEP systems in these areas, homeowners have only one alternative – advanced treatment systems (ATU).
Although it’s been a while since we have published a new Sludge Report, we have not been inactive, our efforts have simply been focused on local activity. The Sludge report published on September 4, 2020, is still one of the best summaries of the Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) process and the Springs Protection Act’s impact on homeowners. Read it again, and then make your legislators, your county commissioners, and your city or town mayor read it. Find out about your local BMAP status and what your current elected officials – or your CANDIDATES FOR OFFICE – plan to do on your behalf.
Your editor lives in the Wekiva Springs/Rock Springs BMAP area. We have benefited from the active engagement of our County Commissioner, Christine Moore. For the last two years, she has been working diligently to engage the homeowners, other county commissioners, the Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection, and even the EPA to make sure the BMAP plan was approved and funded to extend municipal sewer lines in our area. Comm. Moore engaged affected homeowner associations and community members, conducting frequent community meetings until the sewer plan was approved. Then she identified sources of funding and secured them! A phenomenal effort resulted in phenomenal results and our applause and gratitude go out to Commissioner Moore!!!
You can read my speech to the Orange County Commissioners about our septic system conversion to municipal sewers. It is a small sample of what you can do locally. If your elected officials are not taking concrete action like Commissioner Moore did, you must engage immediately with them, or lose control of your future and a large chunk of your finances.
BMAP makes no accommodation for economic downturns and horrific inflation such as we are experiencing right now. There is no FDEP mechanism to accommodate appeals due to citizen hardship. The capital cost of ATU’s has no doubt gone through the roof. Constant maintenance required by these units will incur higher trip, service, and parts charges – if parts are even available! And the electricity to power them will be added to your already skyrocketing utility bill. Doubtful that the newest type of ATU, the “distributed” sewer systems, can be maintained when the world is experiencing chip shortages and these units depend on a programmable controller full of microchips. FDEP and BMAP assumed funding for septic conversions and that the good times would roll on forever. Those of us who are older and wiser know better.
On a state level, two years ago, before the session convening in Tallahassee, I contacted several local state representatives and senators, met with them, and asked them to review and support a proposal to amend the Springs Protection Act. The proposal contained common sense amendments that would assure the successful implementation of BMAP and at the same time, protect homeowners’ property rights and finances. (Read Here) All of the points are still relevant! Your county, state, and local representatives need to see this! You are welcome to print it, email it, and present it. I hope you will. Use any of the resources contained in the Sludge Report and the archives. Pass along to your local and statewide email friends and ask them to do the same.
Make no mistake, citizens informed and mobilized have an impact. As property owners and taxpayers, you have a right to speak on your own behalf and demand solutions that are affordable and effective for your family and the environment.
A final note to all. The Sludge Report will soon be retired, as will our input to this 13-year-long effort. My thanks to my co-editor, Robert, and all my intrepid advisors (you know who you are 😊) who have challenged my thinking and provided me with guidance. To all my fellow homeowners, my heartfelt thanks to you all. It has been an honor and a privilege to meet and communicate with so many of you and to experience your unwavering support and encouragement. All over the state, we have won many battles, endured many frustrations, and worked hard on behalf of our friends and neighbors. The battles are not over, it’s simply gone local. And so must you. Please don’t give up. Copy and save any materials on the Sludge Report website that are important to your local efforts. My prayers go with you for your success. My email, firstname.lastname@example.org will remain active for a while.