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Monday, December 21, 2009

County Abates Part of Cistern Conversion Fee!

The Collier County Department of Health has granted a temporary abatement to a portion of the County-imposed cistern conversion fee.

This is great news for water conservation efforts in general and for those desirous in converting their septic tanks into cisterns.

As this blog has proven repeatedly, a cistern derived from a septic tank saves approximately 900 gallons of water every 2-3 days in the rainy season, and the same every 14-20 days in the non-rainy season. With the U.S. weather service predicting longer rainy seasons now to span six months, this is a considerable water savings.

The cost to convert to a cistern is obviated in part by the savings of having to destroy the septic tank. A novel cistern design is being installed that does not need electricity – hence it's cheaper.

Following the initiative of Councilor Kiester, the Marco Island City Council voted unanimously to eliminate the City-imposed cistern fee. The city council has also sent a letter to Collier County requesting that the County's fee be eliminated.

Following up on the City's letter, the Collier County Department of Health received a call from this author pleading the case based exclusively on our combined obligation to conserve water and to minimize storm water runoff. An email was sent following up on the conservation. Councilor Kiester also followed up with a letter.

And today we received the good news.

The Collier County Department of Health decided to forgo $160 of the $295 fee. They pointed out, correctly so, that the remaining $135 was for out of pocket costs that they had to pay. Also, the elimination of this fee applies to those who have already applied for a cistern permit, and to those applying in the near future. The department will evaluate the program as it goes forward. Fair enough.

To some, these two fee abeyances may seem trivial. But if you think about it, this is a huge accomplishment: when was the last time a grass-roots conservation movement actually garners the cooperation of two government entities and implemented a real water conservation program that also protects the environment?

This opportunity of fees being abated is a welcomed sign that the city and the county are willing to be partners in conservation and in protecting our environment. It is now up to the citizens of Marco Island – you have every opportunity to act to conserve water, protect the environment, and to save money in the long run. Everything has been done for you – you can act, or …

Our expressed gratitude to Councilor Kiester for being the constant and vocal driving force, and to the Collier Department of Health for their professionalism and proven interest in the environment.

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