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The Sludge Report for 08/09/2015

MARK YOUR CALENDAR:  Several important events in the Orlando area are coming up quickly.  For the first time in over two years, the Wekiva BMAP group will meet September 2, 2015.  Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) announces the 6th Annual Water Forum will be held September 24 & 25. Also in this issue, events impacting water quality from around the state.

WEKIVA BMAP – Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection

Wekiva Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) focuses on initiating actions designed to improve water quality for the geographic area that includes Wekiva River, Rock Springs Run, and the Little Wekiva Canal.  Members of the BMAP committee include county and municipal delegates responsible for identifying and remediating sources of pollutants entering and impacting water quality of various waterbodies.  Impacts are divided into two categories – point and non-point sources.  Wastewater treatment plants are point sources. Stormwater drainage, septic systems and fertilizers are considered “non-point” The public is invited to attend.

According to FDEP Basin Coordinator, Moira Homann, final meeting agenda will be sent out via e-mail one week before the meeting and the BMAP draft document will be available on the FDEP web site.  Use the following link to review the draft document: Additional Questions to:  ., (850) 245-8460.     

Meeting Date:              September 2, 2015

Meeting Time:             10:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon

Location:                     Eastmonte Park – George C. Perkins Civic Center

                                    830 Magnolia Drive

                                    Altamonte Springs, FL 32701


September 24 and 25, 2015, Renaissance Orlando at Sea World

Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) will sponsor this event.  The meeting always provides participants with the most current information from Florida’s policy leaders in the legislature and state government on issues relating to water policy.  A sweeping water policy bill worked its way through the legislature last year, but did not reach a vote.  Water policy will be on the agenda again the upcoming legislative session and the speakers at this year’s forum include those deeply involved in the language and intent of any new bill.

Keynote speaker is Adam Putnam, Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Commissioner.  Former FDEP Secretary Herschel Vineyard and current FDEP Secretary Jon Steverson, legislators and industry experts will address the audience and take questions.  Registration is open to all.

Go to to view the entire list of speakers, see the agenda, and register.

Use this link to register by mail: 2015 Water Forum Printable Registration


How many times have we been told sewers are so much better than septic systems?  Lost count. In the past Sludge Reports we have listed other sewer “events” that seriously overshadow any potential harm to water quality septic systems may pose.  Here are some more. 

·        7/8/15 – Orange County pays FDEP fines imposed when on 2/15/15, 500,000 gallons of untreated wastewater were released to the ground surface.


·        7/11/15 – Miami/Dade County awards an $11,000,000 contract to improve deteriorating sewer infrastructure.  This action is to resolve violations and meet implementation deadlines imposed as a result of a lawsuit brought in US District Court. (Source: Florida Water Daily – 7/15/15)

·        St. Petersburg FL. Reported it was pumping raw sewage into Clam Bayou.  Reports from various sources blame the incident on extremely heavy rains that have overwhelmed the sewage infrastructure.  The city is diverting sewage into the bayou in order to keep manholes from overflowing and avoid dumping directly into Boca Ciega Bay.  The city apparently also used pumps to divert sewage onto a grass covered playground and has posted water contamination signs at the site. The magnitude of this waste spill is reflected in the letter (click to read letter) of protest sent by Eckert College whose campus was inundated by raw sewage. (Source: Florida Water Daily – 8/5/2015)


Editor’s note:  Sewer pipes and water treatment plants are overwhelmed when faced with excessive rain.  This is called INFILTRATION.  With infiltration of this magnitude, dumping is permitted. Beyond infiltration events, and depending on the age of the sewers, and not counting lift station failures, everyday municipal sewers leak 10-40% of their untreated waste into groundwater or into the upper aquifer.  This is waste that never reaches the treatment plant.  It’s called EXFILTRATION.  Between these two conditions, functioning septic systems may be the greenest form of waste treatment after all. There are no catastrophic events caused by septic systems, and the volume of waste to be treated by septic systems state wide is miniscule by comparison to these reported failures.   

·        FDEP spending $1,084,356 to remove septic tanks from Silver Springs State Park campground.  In all, the park’s 59 campsites and 10 cabins will be connected to the municipal sewer system, thus eliminating the “potential” for the park’s septic systems to impact the springs.

·        Remember when a year ago we reported on Prof. Brian LaPointe jumping the gun blaming septic systems for the toxins in the Indian River Lagoon that killed manatees and dolphins. That same erroneous information made it into the National Wildlife Magazine this past July.  Perhaps Prof. LaPointe didn’t really mean what he said after all, because his school, Florida Atlantic University Harbor Branch Institute just installed a network of sensors in St. Lucie Estuary and the Indian River Lagoon that could help pinpoint where toxic algae blooms come from. (Fl. Water Daily 7-23/15). And only a year ago, he was so sure he knew where they came from!  Let us know how that research works out, Prof. LaPointe. 


·        Reported in Liberty First Network (


Earthjustice, representing Florida Wildlife Federation, St. Johns Riverkeeper, and the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, has filed a lawsuit over the Florida Legislatures’ allocation of Amendment One funds. Last Sludge Report, Dan Peterson, Center for Property Rights at the James Madison Institute outlined the conservation funding allocations, commending the legislature for their attention to restoration of existing lands and on-going stewardship of the state’s natural resources, much of which is in desperate need of attention.  Liberty First agreed with this assessment in this commentary, as did Associated Industries of Florida.  Yes, Earthjustice is the same legal firm that represented these same environmental groups who sued EPA, claiming Florida was in violation of the Clean Water Act and the federal government needed to take control of our waterbodies and impose Numeric Nutrient Criteria on all of them! 


Editor’s Note: Excuse my annoyance with these lawsuits - which I have expressed in the past. I expected this when Amendment 1 passed. These groups sold Florida voters on the idea that the money would be spent on acquiring land for conservation.  They believed it even though the amendment language did not say that.  Now they are upset that the legislature did read the language. Amendment 1 allows for those funds to be used in a variety of ways, not just purchasing more land.  Further, these same groups assured voters that the legislature had the final say on how the money would be spent.  Now that the legislature acted entirely within their legal authority to allocate funds among those stated uses, the environmental groups have once again hired Earthjustice to file a legal protest. I’m going to assume this is another instance where taxpayer money is flowing from the federal government coffers to pay Earthjustice lawyers.  But to be sure, taxpayer money will flow out of our state coffers to defend the budget.  Insincere, tedious, and costly.


REMEMBER:  Pre-Session Committee Meetings start SOON.  Legislative Session starts in January!  CONTACT your legislators now about your concerns and priorities!! 

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