FDEP Reports on Toxic Water Discharge - Analyzed
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On Marco Island: Independent Reporting, Documenting Government Abuses, Exposing the Syndicate, Historical Records of Crimes Against the Environment
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
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How does the city respond? The City’s Public Information Coordinator suggests that windows and doors be sealed with duct tape and that people stay inside during working hours or leave the island entirely. The first two suggestions are ridiculous: dewatering is a 24/7 operation to keep the trenches dry enough to work in. It doesn’t stop when the workers go home and if you seal your house tightly enough so that hydrogen sulfide gas cannot enter, you’ll suffocate for lack of oxygen. Advising residents to leave the island is tantamount to evicting them so the city can dig ditches.
It is time to ask: “Why are we doing this?” Forget the cost for a moment (if you can). Why are we destroying our island to install sewers? Are they necessary? In a word, “no”; they are not necessary. The city has never been able to demonstrate a need for sewers. The city has never been able to show significant pollution that could be correlated with the use of septic systems. The city has garnered “letters of support” from various agencies and has been able to elicit “opinions” from agency heads in favor of sewers, but it has never produced one iota of verifiable scientific evidence that indicates the need for sewers on our island.
Water quality tests have shown negligible levels of fecal coliform in our canals. That which could possibly be related to the use of septic systems amounts to approximately 1% of the state-established safe level for water used for recreational purposes (swimming, fishing, boating, etc.) That certainly does not constitute “pollution.” When test data failed to support the need for sewers, the city halved the water-testing budget which certainly puts the lie to any statement that the STRP was instituted to save us from pollution.
At a city workshop held in March 2006, the head of the Fort Myers DEP confirmed that Marco waters are not polluted. He denied any plan was afoot to force the city to install sewers and agreed that the location of the Marco Island wastewater treatment plant near the mouth of the Marco River and Gulf is far from ideal. A Rookery Bay scientist who examined the data could find no correlation between nitrogen in our canals with the use of septic systems and opined that the nitrogen buildup was coming from fertilizer runoff and grass clippings.
The Federal EPA, and Florida DEP and DOH in Tallahassee support the use of “managed on-site wastewater treatment,” i.e., properly installed and maintained septic systems, and find them safer than central sewers in many instances. The Federal EPA considers central sewers the second most significant polluter of the environment in the United States; only agricultural runoff is worse. The EPA also estimates that more than 850 billion gallons of raw sewage leak from sewer lines each year on its way to the processing plant. Raw sewage overflows into our lakes, rivers and ocean about 40,000 times each year and is responsible for approximately 2,000 beach closures averaging 10 days in duration. Between 1.8 and 3.5 million people become ill each year from swimming in sewage-polluted waters. These are facts, not opinions; you can verify them yourselves.
So why does the council insist upon sewering the island? In my opinion, it is because they cannot admit to having made a mistake. The STRP is primarily the brainchild of an ex-councilor who refused to run for re-election and defend his Frankenstein. He devised the sewer plan and convinced the council it was necessary because the council trusted him. As one councilor told me two years ago, “He was supposed to be our utility expert. We believed him and followed what he said. Now I feel I’m on a freight train and can’t get off.”
It is time this man’s legacy came to an end. The fact that he once worked for an electric utility does not qualify him to render judgment on a sewer utility. It is time the council admitted that it made a mistake, stop this project dead in its tracks, exercise the city’s prerogative to cancel contracts, and work out a plan to minimize the financial damages that are bound to ensue.
People’s lives, people’s quality of life, and the protection of our environment are at stake. We must get off this freight train now!
Former Chairman of C.A.R.E.S., Inc.
"The interviews show that chronic exposure to relatively low levels of hydrogen sulfide can nevertheless take a considerable toll on people’s health."
“Local governments should consider [sic] establishment of a municipal service taxing unit (MSTU) or municipal service benefit unit (MSBU), pursuant to section 125.01(q) Florida Statutes, to help finance plumbing retrofits in the affected homes.”
Harming Homes, Environment & Health:
Furthering the Hydrogen Sulfide Discussion on
In environments with hydrogen sulfide (H2S) corrosion, the most common types include uniform corrosion, pitting corrosion, corrosion fatigue, sulfide stress cracking, hydrogen blistering, hydrogen embrittlement, and stepwise cracking. For more on the theory and mechanisms for each corrosion type, go to the theory page. 1
Signs of hydrogen sulfide corrosion is depicted in one example as shallow round pits with etched bottoms.This phenomenon is actually documented and even has a name - Hydrogen Sulfide Corrosion Cracking (HSCC). Pitting is a known effect of HSCC.2 In this study, the introduction of chlorine as a catalyst is documented. Note that our water is highly chlorinated.
Ms. Miller sent an e-mail to the council on August 9, 2007 correcting a number of the misstatements made in her presentation. While this serves to clean up the record, the acknowledgement of those misstatements will never be heard by the citizens. Most telling is her representation that “Again, I do not prefer any opinion or favor any specific choice for a vote date.” One can only assume that Ms. Miller forgot her Letter to the Editor titled “Reasons to Change Council Vote to November” published by the Sun Times on August 8, 2007.
The citizens of Marco Island have lost faith in the credibility of their government. This is a result of years of duplicity and the distortion and manipulation of the facts as well as the attempts of rewriting history by the city and their representatives as evidenced above. The citizens are fed up! I believe the next council will be elected on the basis of honest, representative government committed to serve the people’s agenda, not that of the CM or the developers. Thank you for your time.