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.