Archive for December, 2012

Resident’s Letter.4 to County Commission

December 28, 2012

Neighbors on S.Seclusion Dr. recently wrote to the County Commissioners.  Here is the full text of their letter:

To the Honorable Commissioners of Sarasota County,

I first contacted you in June of this year when I learned that we may not be hooking up to the county sewers via the vacuum system but through devices known as Grinder Pumps.  You have since confirmed that this is in fact the direction your staff has recommended and then we listened to their presentation at our community center later in the summer.  They explained how the grinder pumps operate and that the county had chosen this option because the small size of N-3 did not warrant a vacuum system.  During these discussions, we began to realize the enormity of the negatives associated with the use of Grinder Pumps.

Putting aside all the negatives of having a Grinder Pump in our yard, I remain confused as to why N-3 is a “smaller sized area” when it sits in the middle of the $160,000,000.00+ project that created approximately 15 other areas that were inter connected or stand alone and are using vacuum systems.  Recent correspondence to Mr. Menard stated that OUR section N-3 only has 200 homes and is too small for vacuum systems.  This is not OUR section but one designated by the system designers.  Why was this project designed in such a fashion that one section would be too small for the vacuum system?  N-3 is in the middle of the entire project and therefore accessible to other pump stations and connections to the central sewer system.  (In fact there is a lift station for the existing gravity system within N-3 that would not require crossing any canals, creeks or major thoroughfares.)  We are not in mountainous terrain, we are not isolated lots in a rural setting and in fact, given all the negatives associated with grinder pumps, do not seem to qualify as good candidates for their use.

I am also confused about why the costs of a “community” project entailing replacement of over 14,000 septic systems would be broken up and N-3, consisting of only 200 homes, be considered separately and singled out as costing more than other areas to install a vacuum system.  Were the other 15 sections considered individually and then offered to pay a surtax if they exceeded the average cost per section?  This was presented as an option if the residents of N-3 wanted to create a separate taxing district to cover the presumed extra costs of the vacuum system.  Note that the “extra costs” have not been clearly defined nor substantiated and even if they are legitimate, only comprise approximately 1/2% of the total projects costs.  I simply do not understand the logic behind this treatment of an almost forgotten or neglected cluster of 200 homes and it does not seem fair to the homeowners of this area.  They will now be paying for the county to use our property to install Grinder Pumps, we will be paying for the installation of the electric service and electrical expenses to operate the county’s Grinder Pumps and future maintenance and replacement costs are questionable given the track record of these individual grinder pumps when used in other communities.  Other factors such as reduced property values, potential sewage backups during power failures and costs to the county to pump out 200 homes following any storms causing major power outages quite frankly appear ludicrous to even consider.

We understand that staff is reviewing their cost analysis and will be forwarding this information to the N-3 committee prior to the next commission discussions on this subject.  We would appreciate a copy of this report be forwarded to us as well.  Finally, we suggest that the Commission re think giving any consideration to the use of Grinder Pumps as a viable solution for N-3 and move forward with a redesign utilizing the vacuum system as originally presented to the residents.

Respectfully,

Peter and Cathy Houk
3336 South Seclusion Drive
Sarasota, FL 34239

941:227-2403 (H)
941:356-8973 (C)

Note: the N3 Committee has received the Technical Memorandum cost study from county staff.  The committee is currently reviewing the report and will report their findings in the near future.

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Grinder Pumps: What else are we going to see?

December 26, 2012
GP SS Co (photo)

the pump in your front yard


In the last post we looked at the physical installation of the pump and holding tank assembly.  Now let’s take a look what it takes to run the pump.

The control panel

To power the pump that has been installed in your front yard, you are required to have installed, at your expense, a dedicated 30 ampere, 230 volt electric circuit from your main service panel to the pump control panel.  The cost to you will depend on several things: (1) the capacity available in your main panel, (2) the circuit distance from your main panel to the control panel, and (3) the route of the circuit (i.e., thru your attic or trenched around your house).  County literature estimates the cost of this circuit to be $250 to $500 dollars (I had an estimate of $600 for my home and the contractor told me I was lucky… my panel was relatively new and the circuit run was short). GP Control Panel.1 If your service panel needs to be upgraded, the cost can easily be $2000 or more.  Remember, this is not a “social” cost; this is a real dollar cost not borne by other sewer users.  County literature also estimates a $250 cost savings (due to reduced pipe size) that will offset this electrical installation cost. The plumbing estimate I got for my residence indicated a $50 savings. So, a $50 savings applied to a $600 cost is a net cost of $550… and my installation was relatively easy and required no service upgrade.  Don’t forget, “dedicated” means the outlet cannot be used for any purpose other than the pump.  And when the breaker or the wiring fails, it’s your responsibility to replace it… and you won’t have sewer service until you do.

Cost of operation

With the million grinder pumps that are in use, it hard to believe that no one has used test meters to record the actual power used.  I have not been able to find such data, but I have found estimates that range from $1.35 to $5 per month (do a Google search for “power consumption 2 hp grinder pump” and see what you can find).

A major pump manufacturer says the cost is ”typically that of a 40 watt light bulb”.  This seems a rather curious comparison: a small resistive load for extended time periods compared to a high current, short duration cyclic load. But let’s see how it works out: a 40w light bulb x 24 hours x 365 days = 350 kwh per year.  Our local rate is about $.10 per Kwh, so that’s $35 per year, or just under $3 per month.

A pump motor is a little more difficult to calculate.  Unlike straight resistance loads, a motor has a high starting current and a much lower running current.  The 2hp ABS pump has a rating of 10.8 running amps and probably 35 amps starting current.  As the motor starts, it develops a CEMF which reduces the high inrush current and the motor then operates at the lower running amps.  All this really means is that a motor that starts five times a day and runs five minutes per cycle will consume more energy than the same motor that starts once a day and runs for 25 minutes.

An Orenco Systems Engineer calculates that a 1.5 Hp sewage pump operating 20 minutes per day at $0.10 cost per kWh, will cost approximately $3.70 per month.  The SSPMA website estimates $3 to $5 per month, so take your pick. In future conversations and calculations, I’ll use $48/year (If anyone can find a study where actual usage data was collected, please let me know).

All this may seem trivial.. after all, it’s $48 a year, not $48 per month. But go to the Cost Studies archives and read the October 19 article “Present Value formula”.  PV FormulaYou’ll see that what’s a relatively insignificant amount to any one individual homeowner is a very significant component of the system cost. The 216 N-3 residents paying the operating cost of the county’s sewer system represents $187,000 that was not included in the cost comparisons.

Next Post:

The Installation and Maintenance Agreement

Why Are We Having This Discussion?

December 21, 2012

By now you may be asking why we were assigned these grinder pumps in the first place?   County literature says “Where lot elevation is low or the home is a great distance from the county’s right-of-way, a low pressure system that uses a grinder pump will be necessary to move the wastewater from the house uphill to a centrally-located lift station”.  Sounds reasonable… but that’s not us in N-3.

It’s all about the money

Well, it turns out the answer is “cost”.  The county has said that 216 individual grinder pumps are cheaper than a gravity or vacuum system.  After serious questions were raised, the costs are currently being reviewed to see if that’s still the case.  After all, some of the data used in making that determination were more than a decade old. Hopefully, the new study will prove more favorable for a vacuum system, but in case the county still dictates grinder pumps, let’s look at what we’ll get:

  • The excavation.  The first thing you’ll see, after the earthmoving equipment is unloaded, is an excavation in your frontGP Install copy yard.  This will be a hole approximately 6’x6’ within 30-40 feet of your house.  You get to choose the location, but choose carefully. This choice may have future implications because you will essentially lose the use of your property wherever this pump is installed. Grinder Pump Install Phot copyA visit to an existing grinder pump user’s residence revealed that the homeowner had installed a brick paver drive and stone retainer wall over the cover of the pump. The homeowner admitted to “screwing-up” in the placement of these things, but why should the use of your private property be deemed a “screw-up”?  Remember… this device will be not be installed in a utility easement at the roadway, but near your house in your front yard.
  • The pump assembly. Next will be the installation of the grinder pump and holding tank assembly.  The unit will be set in place by Chelmsford, MA copycounty workers in the location you have chosen.  Remember, you can’t have anything other than sod and “readily movable objects” within five feet of the pump or control box.  And the area has to always be accessible to large trucks and service equipment capable of replacing the complete assembly.  Once the pump is installed, your plumbing contractor will make the connections from your home to the holding tank and run a pressure pipe to the street.

What else?

In the next post we’ll look at

  • power to the control panel
  • your cost of operation
  • the Maintenance Agreement

Links to source documents:

Guide to Mandatory Sewer Connection

Sarasota County Sewers

The “Social Costs” of Grinder Pumps

December 19, 2012

Sarasota  County is preparing a cost study comparing sewage grinder pumps to a vacuum system for our N-3 neighborhood . It will contain specific dollar amounts for all the various components of the systems being compared.  But what about the “social costs” borne by us, the individual homeowner?  It is difficult to assign a dollar value to these indirect costs, but they are costs to us nonetheless.

Let’s look at some examples:

  • limited reliability during long-term power outage.  A short-term outage is an inconvenience, will little real cost.  For a short duration, you can use candles and coolers; with functioning water and sewer, you can still use the bathroom.  With a grinder pump, after only a day or two, you may have to leave your home.
  • Privacy intrusion.  Any system (other than gravity) will require regular inspection and servicing.  With a vacuum system, the valves and pit are in the road right-of-way or the utility easement at the perimeter of your property.  With a grinder pump, the work will be in your front yard, within 40 feet of your house.  This is not an issue with a vacuum (or gravity) system.
  • Potential homeowner liability. The agreement we are required to sign clearly exempts the County from liability related to their equipment!  (I’ll have more on the INSTALLATION AND MAINTENANCE AGREEMENT in a future article).  Vacuum users are not required to sign any such “hold harmless” agreement, as there is no county equipment on their private property.
  • Flushables. There is a long list of seemingly harmless items that can damage grinder pumps (dental floss, cigarette filters, etc.), so guests and children will have to be constantly reminded what is and what is not flushable.
  • Vacation preparation. Unlike vacuum or gravity customers, we are advised to fill the bathtub and drain clean water into the grinder pump tank if we leave our homes for an extended period of time.  Failure to do this can result in sewage sitting in the pit for the duration of your absence. This won’t result in a dollar cost, but rather the “social” cost of odor when you return.
  • Odor.  In a gravity system, the vents are on your roof.  The natural sewer gases are vented to atmosphere at a point well above the roof and are not normally noticed.  With a vacuum system, the vent can be near the valve pit at the street.  With a grinder pump, the vent is either in the tank lid or between the tank and the house connection.  In any case, you’ll have a sewer gas vent, not at the street or above your roof, but at ground level within 40 feet of your house.
  • Loss of use of  private property. This is a big one. Under the current proposal we will each have a grinder pump in our front yard, within 40 feet of our home.  Once the pump has been put in place, we will have essentially lost the use of that portion of our property.  The agreement we are required to sign clearly states “no structures, plantings, fencing or fixed objects shall be placed within five (5) feet of the pump or controls”.  What is the cost of restrictions like these?

The price we’ll have to pay

These indirect “social” costs are unique to grinder pump users. While the dollar amount is difficult to assign, they are costs that we, the property owner, must bear nonetheless. Certainly there are some sites in the overall county program where these pumps can’t be avoided.  If your home is directly on the water, your lot elevation may dictate the use of a pump.  But that simply is not the case for the majority of the homes in N3.

Think About It…

Chelmsford, Ma.

December 17, 2012

Prior to 1980, the Town of Chelmsford had been cited numerous times for violation of the Clean Water Act. So they developed a plan for a townwide sewer system and began construction in 1987. Although their sewers have been under construction for 25 years, their grinder pumps made the news on December 10th, 2012 in an article from the Lowell Sun.

Sounds Like Us…

The news article is a little short on details, but apparently there were 13,000 households to be brought into a central sewer system.  500 of these were designated to be served with grinder pumps (sound familiar?).  A number of residents are unhappy with their grinder pumps and have established a citizens organization to work with local government. A recent meeting of the Sewer Fairness Alliance drew 30 concerned residents, and Alliance members say that momentum is growing.  A website has been established, and the group is assembling a list of all homeowners with grinder pumps.

Vacuum Not Considered?

There is no information on what alternatives were considered, but gravity is the only system other than grinder pumps mentioned in the article.  For a vacuum system to be cost effective, 100 homes is generally accepted as the minimum number required, with 200 being the “sweet spot”.  Perhaps their 500 grinder pumps were so scattered that no one section was a large enough number for a vacuum station to be considered.

Chelmsford resident with grinder pump

Chelmsford resident with grinder pump

Complaints From Residents

It seems their issues are the same as our:

  • many homes had to upgrade their electrical system to accommodate the pumps.
  • larger, more expensive generators are required to operate the pumps during a power outage.
  • Ellen DiPasquale: “it really does diminish the value of your property… it doesn’t improve it”
  • in a section of 22 grinder pumps, six have failed so far.

And this:

Patricia McGahn, one of the neighborhood Alliance leaders, had this to say: “The [Town] Sewer Commission arbitrarily decided grinder pumps were now cheaper for the town, so those of us at the end of the project were forced to get grinder pumps”.

Let’s Think About It

The SFA website indicates that residents with grinder pumps are responsible for installation and maintenance costs.  Sarasota County has said that they will pay for our grinder pumps (except electricity), at least for now.  Go to the archives and read about High Springs, Fl. and Waterford, Ct.  Those cities started out covering all the installation and maintenance costs… now they want to shift those costs to the residents.  Do we want that discussion in our future ?

Think About It…  

Links to Source Material:

Lowell Sun News

Chelmsford Sewer Timeline

SFA Website

Resident’s Letter.3 to County Commission

December 16, 2012

One of our N-3 neighbors recently wrote this excellent letter to the County Commissioners…  here is the complete unedited text :

Friday, December 14, 2012

Dear Commissioners:

I have been a strong advocate of Sarasota County’s environmental initiatives related to the Phillippi Creek restoration project, and I commend all of our Sarasota County Commissioners for playing a leading role in those efforts. However, after many years of believing that my N-3 area was typical of the rest of the project, I was surprised to learn in August 2012 that N-3 is not typical at all but rather a very “unique” area requiring a grinder pump system rather than the “traditional” vacuum system.  This was very much new news to someone who had followed the restoration project with enthusiasm.

My enthusiasm for the restoration project took an about face as soon as I started doing research into what a grinder pump was and how it worked.  My enthusiasm waned even more as representatives of the Sarasota County Commission “explained” why I must have a grinder pump, and why I should not be concerned about the facts related to the many problems citizens in other areas of the country have had with the grinder pump.

As hard as I try to generate that naive enthusiasm that I had when I fully supported the Commissioner’s efforts, I now find myself with more questions than clear answers.  I hope that Commissioners can bring more clarity to my quandary.

First, I have been told that the grinder pumps that are to be installed are effective for one and a half days without power before the sewage begins to backup into the house.  I was told by representatives of the Sarasota County Commission that Sarasota had a plan in place for such a situation: pump trucks and personnel.  Commissioner Nora Patterson indicated in an email that in addition to the 216 homes in N-3 that there are 1,500 homes in the sewer project with similar geographic issues.  The last power outage that I lived through in South Gate lasted four days.  Using basic math: the 1,716 homes with grinder pumps would have to be pumped twice in four days to keep the sewage from backing up into our homes. That would be 3,432 inspections.  Is Sarasota County really prepared to handle that scenario?  During the four day power outage, if my memory serves me, it was extremely difficult to get around many of the roads in my area due to downed trees and flooded streets. The above question is not meant to be disrespectful, but after all I was told not to worry because Sarasota had a plan to handle power outages.

Second, I have even more unanswered questions/concerns about the actual grinder pump.  Again, I was told by a representative of the Sarasota County Commission that Sarasota County would maintain my grinder pump and replace it should the need arise. However, the replacement would depend on an “at fault” determination.  With natural wear and tear, the County would be responsible.  With “negligence” on part of the homeowner, the homeowner would be responsible.  How will negligence be determined?  What qualifications are required of those individuals making “at fault” determinations? In many sports, instant replay is utilized to try to make sure that a bad call is not made.  In order for the homeowner be protected from a bad call, what legal process does the Sarasota County Commission have in place to protect its citizens when the presumption of negligence is questionable?  What are the levels of physical proof and financial outlay that a homeowner should expect during the legal process?

Third, in many areas of the country that I researched, I found that well intended promises  made by city and county governments regarding the grinder pump system could not be kept.  In almost every case, that left the homeowner to deal with the physical, the financial and the emotional burdens associated with the promises not kept.  I hope that the mistakes made in other areas of the country are not going to be repeated here in Sarasota.  How does the Sarasota County Commission plan to prevent the following situations from repeating in Sarasota?

  1. Shifting the burden of maintenance from the County to the homeowner if the cost of the grinder pump system repairs fail to meet established budget allotments as the grinder pump system ages,
  2. Reducing the sale value of a home due to a required grinder pump system installed vs a much preferred vacuum pump system (realty disclosure requirements),
  3. Placing the grinder pump on a homeowners property rather than on the establish County easement, therefore, creating liability problems for homeowner during required County maintenance,
  4. Designing a sewer system based on lower immediate cost while ignoring the possible long term impacts of the major flaws inherent in the proposed grinder pump system.

Again, my comments and questions are not meant to be disrespectful.  I have a vested interest in making sure that the major decisions made by elected Sarasota County officials reflect the best judgment possible. Sarasota has been my home since 1958. In the past fifty-four years, Sarasota has changed greatly.  Most of those changes have made Sarasota an even better place to live and raise a family.  However, I have also been a witness to Sarasota government “quick fixes” and “tunnel vision solutions” that took years and/or voter activism to undo!

I thank you ahead of time for your quick response to my concerns/questions.

Ron Carr
2928 Tanglewood Way
Sarasota, FL 34239

N3 Committee Gets Moving…

December 15, 2012

The Neighborhood Committee recently sent this letter to the 216 property owners in the PCSSRP area designated as N-3 :
postcard1

Dear South Gate Neighbor,

We are writing to inform you of pending Sarasota County Commission action that could reduce your property value and impinge on your quality of life. Please take a moment to read this letter.

You are receiving this letter because your property lies in “Area N3” of Sarasota County’s Phillippi Creek Septic System Replacement Program. The county staff has proposed to install a system of “grinder pumps” to provide sewer service to the 216 homes in Area N3. This proposal will come before the County Commission on Feb. 13, 2013.

A grinder pump, as the name implies, grinds up sewer waste and pumps it away from your home. Under the proposal, there will be a grinder pump in the front yard of each home in Area N3.

A committee of your neighbors has been doing research into grinder pump systems, and we have found that grinder pumps are the least desirable of the three primary wastewater systems in wide use. Those systems are gravity sewers (very expensive and not under consideration), vacuum sewers (which have been installed in most of South Gate), and grinder pumps, which the county confusingly calls a “low pressure” system.

Grinder pumps have several inherent disadvantages:

  • They require power from the home to operate. In the event of a power failure or elecrical malfunction, the pump stops working and eventually sewage backs up into the home.
  • They require the homeowner to provide an electrical connection for the pump and to provide the electricity to power the pump. Vacuum sewer customers do not face these expenses.
  • The property owner must grant the county access to his or her property for the placement of the pump and for maintenance. This amounts to an easement, although the county does not plan to obtain a formal easement or to compensate you for the easement.
  • The pumps can be damaged by some common household items that are commonly flushed down toilets, intentionally or accidentally. The committee has found that utilities elsewhere have responded to unexpected maintenance costs by widening the definition of “negligence,” thus requiring the homeowners to pay for increasing shares of the system maintenance down the road.

The utilities department maintains that lower cost is the reason they are proposing grinder pumps rather than vacuum sewers for our area. However, preliminary figures we have seen do not take into account the extra up-front cost, the continuing electricity cost, or the possibility of potentially crippling maintenance costs in the future. Thus, we believe that cost must not be the primary consideration. There is a “social cost” of inconvenience to the homeowners that must be considered.

The N3 Committee is working to oppose the installation of grinder pumps in our neighborhood. We have spoken with the commissioners in person to express our concerns. What we need now is for the commissioners to see that the neighborhood is behind us. if you agree With the Committee that you would prefer a vacuum system, like the rest of South Gate, We ask that you lend your support to the committee.  Please act now… time is short!

Here is how you can help us DUMP THE PUMPS

  • Tell us you are on board with the N3 Committee. Just sign the enclosed postage-paid postcard and drop it in the mail! Please provide your email address, and we will add you to the mailing list as a supporter. For privacy, you do not need to include your street address on the reply postcard; we have your address on file. With your email address we can keep you informed of activities leading up to the February 13 meeting.
  • Stay informed. Mike Scarborough maintains a blog at sarasotaN3sewers.wordpress.com. This blog contains explanations of the various systems as well as stories from around the nation regarding problems with grinder pump systems. Once you are on the email list, you will receive summaries and links to new posts on the blog.
  • Email the county commissioners at commissioners@scgov.net and tell them that you support the N3 Committee. Politely tell them you would like them to reject grinder pumps for Area N5 in favor of a vacuum system. We recommend that the email be respectful and brief. Please, do not ask to keep your septic tank. There is absolutely no chance that the commissioners will agree to that. The question here is not whether we are getting sewers; the question is solely what kind of sewers we get.

If the neighborhood can demonstrate its unity, We believe we can stop the grinder pumps. Please help us by returning the enclosed postcard today!

Thank you for your time and your support.

Peter Gentile, Chairman

Henry Abraham, M.D., Vice-Chairman

Carol Belding, Secretary

Del Macaulay, Treasurer

Mike Scarborough, Research


Resident’s Letter.2 to County Commission

December 13, 2012

An N3 Neighbor’s Letter to the County Commission

Commissioners:

I am writing to you to express my support for the N3 Committee, which is representing the residents of the N3 area regarding the rejection of the planned installation of grinder pumps. I am very much in favor of the planned replacement of all septic tanks. However, I feel very strongly that the installation of a grinder pump system would have a negative effect on the homeowners of N3.  I am asking, as a tax paying citizen of Sarasota County, that we be given the same option as the rest of the South Gate area with the installation of a vacuum system.

Please consider that we, the homeowner, have the largest stake in this decision as we will be the ones who will suffer the negative effects of an inferior system.

Thank you for your willingness to consider this option and for your efforts to continue to keep Sarasota County a wonderful place to live. I was born and raised here and my wife and I intend to do the same with our two boys. We love our neighborhood and our home and feel very strongly against the grinder pump installation.

Respectfully,

AJ Menard
3204 Tanglewood Drive
Sarasota, FL 34239

Commissioner Patterson Responds

Dear Mr. Menard,

The staff recommended grinder pumps because of the difficulty and expense of the vacuum system in a small area surrounded by ditches/canal and river.  You have about 200 homes in N3 and we are told the cost to do vacuum in your area would be an extra $1,000,000.  That is about $5000 extra a home.   The current public subsidy of a sewer conversion per residence is about $6000 per home.   Obviously the issue you are concerned about raises the ante.  The staff are checking their work on this and will be meeting with your N3 committee regarding these issues.

One of the issues is that there are about 1500 homes in the sewer project area in total with similar geographic issues which means a substantial unfunded cost to do everyone with similar geographic challenges with the vacuum method.  The commission is pretty open minded on this but, like you, we need accurate numbers of the consequence of responding positively to your request.  The extra cost would be subsidized by all the other sewer customers in the county.   I can understand your concern, we all can, but there are some similar issues with all sewer connections.

Sadly no system is perfect.   We just had about 12 homes end up with sewage inside because of a failure in the vacuum system.  For sure the vacuum system and even gravity fails in a power outage.  I am not sure what actually happened, but I got calls on it and at least for two homes the problem was pretty bad.  Similarly, I know some folks on a large lot who had sewage back up into their home from a septic tank system.  They had to redo flooring and drywall and it was a huge expense.

I do understand the concern, however, of having more units therefore more potential for the county to fail to address the problem in enough time to avoid a back up.

Sincerely,

Nora

Yarmouth, Ma. Rejects Grinder Pumps

December 11, 2012

Yarmouth, Ma.

Yarmouth is yet another town with septic tank problems, and in 2003 they established a Planning Committee to address the issue.  They initiated a study with Camp Dresser & McKee consulting firm and in 2007 CDM issued a report that summarized their findings and their discussions with the Committee. They presented their Technical Memorandum and their approach to identifying the areas to be served with gravity, vacuum, and “low pressure” sewers.  Here’s what the report had to say:

Vacuum is the Preferred Technology

The cost comparisons between grinder pumps and a vacuum system were similar, so the Committee decided that vacuum sewers would better serve Yarmouth.  A number of factors influenced this decision, including the power outage issues with grinder pumps and the fact that the sheer quantity of mechanical components in a “low pressure” system increases the risk of breakdowns.

Low Pressure as the Secondary Technology

Vacuum sewers are considered ideal by the Committee because they are a centralized system that places the burden of responsibility on the town and does not subject individual homeowners to the costs and disadvantages of grinder pumps.  There are instances, however, where vacuum sewers are not cost effective and grinder pumps are the sensible choice in these instances.  Grinder pumps are most appropriate when:

  1. an isolated service area is 100 homes or less.  Dedicating one vacuum station to such a small area would not be cost effective.
  2. where vacuum (or gravity) is not feasible due to extreme elevation differences or other aspects of the topography.  In such a case, the addition of a few grinder pumps is a viable alternative.GP Typical Inst

Where is Yarmouth Today?

In 2008 a $3.1 million contract with CDM was approved for the design of the first phase of the $275 million 25-year project.  It seems that the Town’s current challenge is getting the voters to approve a tax increase to pay for the program.  We don’t have that problem.  I don’t know what other differences there are between Yarmouth and Sarasota, but numbers aren’t any different: “100 or less” is the same here as it is in Yarmouth.  We have 216 homes in N-3, more than twice the minimum.  Let’s put in vacuum!

Links to Source Materials:

CDM report

The Yarmouth Register

N3 Committee Report

December 8, 2012

Hello N-3 Neighbors,

Your neighborhood committee met last week at the home of a resident on Tanglewood Dr.  The meeting was well attended and we gained several new active committee members.  The committee selected officers as follows:

Chairman – Peter Gentile

Vice Chair – Dr. Henry Abraham

Secretary – Carol Belding

Treasurer – Del Macaulay

Research – Mike Scarborough

Current Action Item:

a mail-out to the 216 property owners that are represented by the N3 Committee. We now have an email list of 71 residents that are getting the frequent articles and updates… we want all 216 to be informed.

Pending Action Item:

One of our committee members has spoken with a Sarasota homeowner that had his septic tank replaced with a county grinder pump. We have been invited to visit his home to inspect the installation and discuss his experiences. We will issue a report in the near future.

N3 Committee