Archive for the ‘Odds and Ends’ Category

Red Bug Slough Air Potato Roundup

November 1, 2016

Saturday Nov 5th

Plan to come out this Saturday and join the roundup… the last event was in February (scroll down and read the Feb 28 post) and was loads of fun!



Registration Information

Here’s the link to the registration page or contact Darcy Young (Public Outreach Manager for the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program)  (941) 955-8085 |


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.




JEA Unloads Pump Maintenance

January 24, 2013

I just came across this August 2009 article about the Jacksonville Electric Authority.  It seems that yet another utility is pushing the responsibility of grinder pumps back to the homeowner. I haven’t researched the situation, but here’s a link to the article; you can read it for yourself.  If anyone wants to investigate the story, let me know what you find and I’ll post it here.

Here’s the article:

JEA to homeowners: You fix them


Let’s Ask Our Neighbors on S. Seclusion…

November 1, 2012

Where to put the vacuum pumps?

On the data sheets presented to us, we saw that the vacuum station structure (foundation, walls, floor, roof) cost was estimated to be $165,000.00. Although there was no estimate shown for site purchase,  at the community meeting it was stated that the “cost of real estate is prohibitive”.

So let’s take another look at S. Seclusion 

The house at 3376 South Seclusion Dr. has been unoccupied for months.  It is listed on Zillow for $125K with an estimated value of $120.5K  (listing note: “land value only… existing home needs to be torn down”).

This may be an ideal location for a vacuum pump station.  There is a FPL feeder main on the west boundary (Tuttle Ave) for an adequate power supply and there is vacant county property to the south.  It is a heavily wooded lot, so it should not be visually objectionable to the neighbors.

Here are some recent photos

(looking southwest)

(looking northwest – county property in foreground)

Is this a viable site?

The site elevation is somewhat low, but the homes on S. Seclusion Dr. are essentially the same level. Does the elevation preclude this site from consideration? (one of the first undertakings once a site is selected is to dig a hole 20 feet deep).   Another issue is objection from adjacent neighbors.  Did the county ask the residents on Goldenrod if they wanted a pump station next door?  If total neighbor approval was a design criteria, I doubt we would have any pump stations in residential neighborhoods.

But let’s ask the neighbors on S. Seclusion:

Here’s a typical small vacuum station

And as you can see, most of the equipment is below grade.


Would you object to a building something like this if it meant being served with vacuum sewer rather than grinder pumps?  Air Vac specifications show a minimum building size of about 24 x 24 ft.  I don’t know what the size requirements would be for our neighborhood, but it would probably be something like what is shown above: a small building with small pumps.  Walk by 3376 S. Seclusion and take a look… let me know what you think.

An open question to readers:

If there is a fundamental reason this property cannot possibly be utilized for a pump station site, someone please tell me and I’ll move on to something else.  Otherwise, I’ll keep asking…

Grinder Pump Emergency Procedures

October 27, 2012


In a recent post I printed an excerpt from the High Springs Grinder Pump Information brochure.  A neighbor questioned the directive to “have a camp bucket on hand for sanitary uses” during a power failure. The text was taken directly from their brochure.

Here’s the excerpt:


“Your grinder pump cannot dispose of wastewater without electrical power. If electrical power service is interrupted, immediately begin conserving water. Failure to conserve water in the event of a power failure could result in sewer overflows or backups. Minimize water use by not using your shower or bath. Do not store water in bathtubs or similar equipment connected to the sewer as an accidental emptying will fill the wet well. Wash your hands and bathe sparingly using an outside spigot. Have a camp bucket on hand for sanitary uses. Use your toilet only if absolutely necessary. The wet well for your grinder pump system may act as storage if used sparingly. The City will attempt to empty wet wells with available equipment as soon as possible, but will not be responsible for the cost of repairs to your home due to sewer overflows during an emergency”

Here’s the link to the Brochure:

Care and Use of Your Grinder Pump 2012

N-3 Neighborhood Update

October 25, 2012

Hello N-3 Neighbors,

Tuesday’s Board of County Commissioners meeting had a segment pertaining to our neighborhood  (Watch it here –  go BCC-Regular Oct 23,2012, view video, time stamp 05:29).  I found the conversations very encouraging… watch it yourself and send in your thoughts.  The Commissioners are obviously giving our project their serious attention. The staff presentation is scheduled for January 8th, but there is indication we may get to review the new data before the open meeting. I think we should all be very optimistic that our concerns are being seriously considered.

Let’s get involved!

P.S. At one point in the discussions (05:33) Greg Rouse, referring to me personally, said that he does not agree with my numbers.  I assume he meant this as a figure of speech, but please understand… the data I publish are not “my numbers”.  All the information I present comes from the staff presentations, material published on the Internet, or knowledgeable sources. I try to publish source links in all the articles, but if you have a question email me and I’ll provide the reference.  If I make any errors or misstatements, let me know and I’ll print a correction.

mike s.

3376 S. Seclusion Dr.

October 22, 2012

Potential Vacuum station site: 

The house at 3376 South Seclusion Dr. has been unoccupied for months.  It is listed on Zillow for $125K with an estimated value of $120.5K  (listing note: “land value only… existing home needs to be torn down”).

This may be an ideal location for a vacuum pump station.  There is a FPL feeder main on the west boundary (Tuttle Ave) for an adequate power supply and there is vacant county property to the south.  It is a heavily wooded lot, so it should not be visually objectionable to the neighbors.

The  cost data sheets we were shown for Vacuum did not include a site acquisition figure, but certainly it was more than $125,000!  This seems to be an ideal opportunity to purchase a site at a real bargain.

Present Value formula

October 19, 2012

I’ll be writing on Elements of a Cost Study next week.  In the meantime here’s something I’ve been thinking about…

When this formula was presented at the Community Meeting I was, well…  perplexed.

I knew I had seen it before, but I really didn’t understand it and I didn’t know why it was being shown to me now.  So I set out to educate myself on PV,  and it’s close relative, FV.  Turns out to be really quite simple:  Present Value (PV) is the amount of money you need today to pay for a series of payments to be made in the future, over a given time period  at an assumed interest rate.   Future Value (FV) is the sum of  a series of payments (investments) over a given time period, also at an assumed interest rate.

This relates to us in N-3 something like this: the additional charge on our FPL bill for a grinder pump will be about $4 per month.  There are 216 of us, so 216 x $4 x 12 months = $10,368 per year.  Let’s use 40 years (instead of 20) for the term and 5% (instead of 7%) as the interest rate.  You can plug it into the PV formula (or use this handy calculator ) and you’ll get $186,800.68 that should be added to the cost of our grinder pump system (the county won’t see it on their bill, but we’ll see it on ours).

Now let’s look at that $48 per year from each of us going instead into a community account for, let’s say, a new community center.  In 40 years the same $10,368 per year at 5% would be (calculator) $1,252,452.06 in Future Value.

I know we’re not going to save up a million dollars for a new community center, but let’s get the county to give us the credit for the $187,000 they’re asking us to pay to power a grinder pump system.

mike s.

Comment from a knowledgeable neighbor:

 “ future value is the amount of money needed at a specific date in the future that is equivalent to an amount of money today” and “everyone should know the value of every additional cost that we need to pay that the vacuum (or gravity) people don’t have to pay”.