Red Bug Slough Air Potato Roundup

February 28, 2016

Fun Day at Red Bug Slough!

A very fun day last Saturday at the Red Bug Slough Preserve!  Kids, dogs, hamburgers… what else could you ask for?  Darcy Young with Sarasota Bay Estuary Program and Jeff Weber of Sarasota County hosted a morning of cool fresh air and an unlimited supply of air potatoes!  We had a couple of hours of gathering the offending spuds and then the awards: largest potato, smallest potato, most unusual, and total pounds gathered.  There were couples, families, and kids groups from local schools and churches.  The roundup concluded with a cook out courtesy of Sarasota County (thanks for the veggie burgers, Jeff).

Dioscorea bulbifera (say what?)


Lesson learned: Don’t put these things in your yard trash!  There have been times when I have filled an entire  trash can with air potatoes and vines and I always put them out with the yard trash.  Big mistake!  They get mulched and can spread back into the environment.  They should be placed in a black plastic bag and put out with regular garbage.

Future Events

There are more events coming up…  contact Darcy and get on the SBEP email list.

Darcy Young
Sarasota Bay Estuary Program


February 23, 2016





Now that our sewer is decided…

February 22, 2016

…maybe there are other things we can do to improve the health of the Phillippi Creek Watershed.  Certainly the conversion from septic tanks to central sewer will improve the water quality of the Creek, but can we do more?  Turns out the answer is “YES, WE CAN”.

Sarasota County FYN Program

So, what is the Florida Friendly Yards and Neighborhood Program?  My wife Lynne and I set out to see if we could find out. A couple of weeks ago we visited the UF/IFAS Extension office at 6700 Clark Rd (Twin Lakes Park) and spoke with Wilma Holley, the Florida Friendly Landscaping Program Specialist for Sarasota County.  After a pleasant visit and a tour of the grounds we went home, checklist in hand, and started a survey of our yard.  Things looked pretty good: our roof runoff is directed into rain barrels or landscaping, we use leaf litter or melaleuca for mulch, we have a porous driveway and a compost bin. We didn’t find any “prohibited” plants, so we called Wilma and made an appointment for an on-site audit.

A pleasant experience

Wilma paid us a visit last week and gave our yard a thorough evaluation.  She is a wealth of knowledge and very pleasant to talk to. She gave us some good suggestions and pointed out some invasive plants that we did not know were invasive (“prohibited” plants would be a disqualification; we’ll work on the “invasive” ones).  The end result was a Silver level certification and Florida Friendly yard sign!



Contact the Extension Office

Download the checklist and do a quick survey… it may take very little to get your yard certified.  Remember the “Dump the Pumps” yard signs?  Let’s see how many Florida Friendly signs we can get in the neighborhood (I’ll bet no one will steal them in the middle of the night!)  You can reach Wilma at 941-861-9812 or at

Wilma Holley and Lynne Scarborough

Wilma Holley and Lynne Scarborough

P.S. Air Potato Round Up at Red Bug Slough

The Sarasota Bay Guardians are sponsoring an Air Potato Roundup at Red Bug Slough on Saturday Feb. 27 from 9AM until 12 noon.  You can sign up here.





February 6, 2016

PCSSRP Status Report (link)

N3 Residents

Property owners within the boundaries of Area N3 will receive an invitation to attend a public meeting/open house scheduled for February 24, 2016. In the “open house” forum, property owners will be able to speak with county staff, one-on-one, about any site specific concerns relative to their individual properties. Opportunities to discuss funding options, septic tank decommissioning and other pertinent topics, with county staff, are available.

The project is anticipated to advertise for construction bids in the Spring of 2016. Construction is slated to begin in the Fall of 2016, reaching Final Completion approximately nine months later, or Summer of 2017. This is a fairly conservative schedule; construction completion could be achieved as much as six months sooner than the Summer of 2017.

D3 Residents

Some residents in D3 have been attending the N3 public meetings to keep abreast of the potential change in technology in providing central sewer service to the various neighborhoods. Any resident is welcome to attend county-sponsored events, however, residents within D3 will be invited to attend a separate public meeting, specifically addressing the needs of D3. Staff anticipates a public meeting for D3 to be held in the Summer/Fall of 2016. Property owners will receive an invitation for this meeting in the Summer of 2016.

Drain Field Problems

January 13, 2016

All of us are anxiously awaiting the installation of our central sewer system.  Those of us that are experiencing septic drain field problems are really anxious to be connected to the new system!  I have been fortunate to not have problems, but I’ve done some research and here’s what I’ve found:

The Indiana Health Dept. says “The main reason for failure of a leach field is plugging caused by a failed septic tank. Particles of non- decomposed septic material escape the septic tank outlet baffle and decrease the permeability of the leach field soil”.

An article from West Virginia University has this under “Short Term Solutions”… If the neighborhood is soon to receive public sewerage, it might be practical to use a short-term technique such as water conservation. This method obviously requires a good deal of homeowner commitment, as it usually takes a 30 percent reduction in water use to allow the drainfield to recover.

The Florida Department of Health has published a guide to Alternative Repair Methods, but it comes with this caveat: “The Department’s acceptance of an alternative repair product or method is not an endorsement or approval with respect to the benefit, effectiveness, or performance of the product or method”.

From The Laundry Alternative: “Some failed systems can be rejuvenated by fracturing the soil. This process utilizes a hollow tube inserted into the soil, then a 300 pound blast of air is injected into the soil creating thousands of tiny fissures. These fissures allow the drainfield to drain, creating an oxygen atmosphere and allow the aerobic bacterial colonies to repopulate. Aerobic bacteria, which require oxygen, typically live in the top 26 inches of the drainfield and process waste much more quickly than anaerobic bacteria. This process can be performed in a matter of hours with no digging or damage to the yard. One company which performs this service is Terralift International”.  Southern Sanitary Systems located at 4561 Ashton Rd is listed as a local provider of this service. You can call them at (941) 925-7867 to see if you are a candidate for their service.

And lastly, there is a provision in the PCSSRP (EXHIBIT “B” – CREDITS) that provides a schedule of pro-rated credits for repair/replacement expenses.  The County folks will be available at the February community meeting, so we can ask questions then.

If anyone finds more information to share, send it to and I’ll post it here.

I will add that I have had good experience with Bob Letterman Plumbing.  Bob and Janie live in SouthGate and can be reached at  For septic tank service I use Miller Bros. Contractors.  Miller Bros. also offers the septic tank-to-cistern conversion for irrigation.


Although listed on the Terralift website as a local provider, I received this information from Southern Sanitary Systems: “we no longer offer the Terralift repair option. In our experience, we have found that it is not as effective as drainfield jetting, which we do offer. Every property is significantly different and estimates are free, so if any of your neighbors would like us to look at their individual issue to see how we can help, they can call the office and we would be more than happy to set one up.”

January 2016 Project Update

January 13, 2016

Representatives of the N-3 neighborhood met January 7 with the Sarasota County Utilities Department for an update on the sewer installation project in our neighborhood.

​​We are happy to report that the design is far enough along that a public meeting has been scheduled at which the plans will be available for review. This meeting will be held the evening of Wednesday, Feb. 24, at the South Gate Community Center.

The meeting will be an open house rather than a presentation. ​You will have the opportunity to circulate and get information on various aspects of the project. ​County representatives will be available to discuss individual lot-specific issues. ​Detailed cost and financial information will be available. And Health Department representatives will be on hand to discuss issues related to septic tanks and their decommissioning.

The official notice of the meeting will be sent out this month to all affected residents. A separate notice will go out to residents of Mineola and River Ridge to hear ​about ​future plans for their areas.

We hope to see all of you at the Community Center on Feb. 24.

Best regards,
Peter Gentile, N-3 Neighborhood Committee

November 2015 Project Update

November 30, 2015

PCSSRP  Monthly Status Report Through October 31, 2015:

Area N3 consists of nearly 200 sewer connections.

Next Steps:

 Additional design work outside of the N3 project scope, but affecting the restoration work associated with N3 once the sewer project is complete, was identified by the Utility, which will impact the N3 project schedule by several months. Designing this additional pipeline work now and constructing it with the central sewer for N3, ensures that the community is only impacted one time. Coordinating this work together minimizes the number of times the neighborhood is disrupted and ensures the Utility has a properly functioning and maintained wastewater collection system.

 60% percent design plans for a hybrid-gravity central sewer system are due from the consultant at the end of October 2015. Easement needs/locations have been identified and are in progress.

Public Outreach:

 As the additional work referenced above is further defined and scoped, an updated schedule will be provided via this report as well as to the N3 community in its entirety. Staff will also work with leaders of the N3 community to have it posted on their website.

 It is anticipated that property owners within the boundaries of Area N3 will receive an invitation to attend a public meeting/open house in the Winter of 2015, where they will be able to speak with county staff about any site specific concerns. Opportunities to discuss funding options, septic tank decommissioning and other pertinent topics related to the program will be available at this meeting as well.

 The project is anticipated to advertise for construction bids in the Spring of 2016. Construction would be slated to begin in the Fall of 2016, reaching Final Completion approximately nine months later, or Summer of 2017. This is a fairly conservative schedule; construction completion could be achieved as much as six months sooner than the Summer of 2017. However, until revised plans are received and some of the major public outreach meetings have taken place, the county will use the more conservative schedule. As these and other associated activities are completed, the schedule will become better defined and more specific and frequent updates will be provided to the N3 community.

Note: The Winter 2015 public meeting has been pushed out to January 2016. We will post details when they become available.

N3 Sewer Update June 2015

June 25, 2015

Hello N3 Neighbors,

Sarasota County’s latest status report for the septic tank replacement program (PCSSRP) can be found here. Click on the “View the latest update” link and scroll down to Area N3.

We will post details of the fall 2015 meeting as soon as the date is announced.

N3 Sewer Public Meeting April 8, 2015

March 30, 2015




(click on image to enlarge)

N3 Sewer Update Feb 2015

February 9, 2015

On Monday, Feb. 2, Mike Scarborough and Peter Gentile, representing the N3 Neighborhood Committee, met with the county staff and consulting engineers involved in the “hybrid gravity” sewer system that will be built in our neighborhood. 

Although the final details are subject to review and approval by county and state regulators, the plan seems to be shaping up as follows: four lift stations will be built in the neighborhood, two primary pumps on Tanglewood Drive and two smaller pumps, one each on North and South Seclusion Drives. 

When the “hybrid gravity” system was proposed, it was envisioned that there would probably be at least six lift stations. So we can thank the engineers at Giffels-Webster for minimizing the footprint of this project. Specifically, the engineers came up with a method to connect the homes in the Homasassa Street neighborhood to existing sewer lines, eliminating one lift station. And where Tanglewood crosses the Bermuda canal, there will be one lift station, whereas it was initially thought that there would need to be one on each side of the canal.

To remind everyone, these lift stations will be underground. Only the electrical equipment and control panels will be above ground. These will be fenced or landscaped or both, we have been assured. 

As a further reminder, and to recap, in the summer of 2012 it came to our attention that the county intended to connect us to the county sewer system through the installation of a “grinder pump” in the front yard of each of our homes. A group of neighbors got together and researched these “grinder pumps,” and discovered that other communities that had installed them had reliability problems. We were also uncomfortable with the idea that the pumps would stop working in the event of a power outage, that the county would have a de facto easement on each of our properties, and that we would have to pay for the electricity to run the pumps. 

At the time, the committee believed that the only option to the grinder pumps would have been a “vacuum” system, such as was installed in the rest of South Gate. If that system had been adopted, one of the houses in our neighborhood would have been demolished and replaced with a vacuum station. That clearly would have also affected the homeowners who lived adjacent to the vacuum station. 

The neighborhood committee prevailed upon the County Commission to “Dump the Pumps” and county staff was directed to take another look at our neighborhood, and to see if there might be a third alternative. And indeed there was: the “hybrid gravity” system that is going forward now. Basically, it is a traditional gravity system, except that there are more lift stations and the pipes are not as deep in the ground as would be the case in a “built-from-scratch” system. In fact, most lift stations in the county serve hundreds of homes each. In our neighborhood, we will have four lift stations for about 200 homes. 

Neighbors frequently ask, “When are we getting sewers?” The answer is still, “Some day in the not too distant future” We are discovering that public works projects move through the system fairly slowly. This project presents engineering and regulatory issues that only add to the timeline. However, we can assure you, this project is moving, the money is available, and it will be built.

The next step will be a public meeting. At that time, the plan will be pretty much finalized. Homeowners will be able to review the plans and get answers to their specific questions. The county staffers indicated that the meeting will occur in late March or early April.