Archive for the ‘Sewer Systems’ Category

N3 Sewers: Project Update 12.7.2017

December 7, 2017
The construction of our sewer system appears to be progressing smoothly. Tanglewood Dr. north of Fair Oaks is essentially complete and Rose St and Bougainvillea are almost finished, as is North Seclusion Dr.  There is some construction to be done on the south side of Webber St that is included in Phase 2. The plans show Homassassa Rd. to be Phase 3 and work there will begin upon completion of Phase 2.

What’s That Pipe in My Yard?

Some residents have asked “what is that green pipe sticking up in my yard?” Well, that is the connection point where the homeowner’s sewer line hooks up to the utility sewer. The finished installation will be cut off at grade level. Here are some photos:

This is what we’re looking at now…


This is a typical clean-out at the connection to the county sewer line.

Anybody Know a Good Plumber?

Although our actual hook-ups are months away, this is probably a good time to start talking to plumbers.  I have contacted several and here (in alphabetical order) are those that have indicated an interest in working in our neighborhood:

One advantage in making early contact with a plumber is to get their advice on the placement of the clean out at your property line.  The contractor (Spectrum Underground) has indicated that they will locate the connection pipe wherever you want it, but once it’s installed it can’t be relocated.  Determining the best location now could save you money down the road!  If you know of other plumbers that are interested, have them contact me and I’ll add their names to the list.

Note: When you speak with the plumbers be sure to tell them OUR SEWERS ARE NOT A VACUUM SYSTEM!

List of Certified Plumbers from DBPR

 A listing of state certified plumbers is available at click on “VERIFY A LICENSE”, then “Search by City or County”>Category “Construction Industry”, Type “Certified Plumbing Contractor”>County “Sarasota”> Search.

For Our Do-It-Yourself Neighbors

In a future article I’ll have some tips and guidelines for those ambitious souls that may want to do their own work.

Contact Information

  • construction questions – John Saputo (941) 650-0022
  • Pluris Southgate customer service – (888) 758-7471
  • utility connections – (941) 861-6767   [option 1]
  • financing connection fees – (941) 861-6767  [ option 3]
  • PCSSRP documents



N3 Sewers: Project Update 8.15.17

September 20, 2017

Latest Info from Sarasota County

The Phillippi Creek Septic System Replacement Program (PCSSRP) was developed in 2000 to protect public health and to improve water quality in Phillippi Creek, by replacing individual septic systems and small private package waste water plants in many Sarasota County neighborhoods with central sewer service. Over 15,000 septic tanks will be replaced over the life of the project. Approximately 200 residents will be connecting to central sewer in Area N3.

Area N3 is being designed as a hybrid gravity sewer system with two smaller lift stations within the project area. Homeowners will connect to the central sewer system using a conventional gravity lateral rather than maintaining individual low pressure units on each property, as originally planned.

Award of the construction contract was April 25, 2017 to Spectrum Underground. The construction Notice to Proceed was given on May 23, 2017. Construction has begun and completion of the project is scheduled for March 2018.

Crews will continue pipe installation work on Tanglewood Drive and North Seclusion Drive. Work from there will proceed to the North. The Directional drill operations at North and South Seclusion are complete. The recent hurricane has impacted the work, so progression of work has slowed. More crews are expected to arrive in two to three weeks.

Please do not enter an active zone of construction

The contractor has asked that we reiterate the need for safety for the residents and all of those traveling in the areas under construction. There have been several instances of pedestrians and bicyclists entering the work zone to see the work being done. Please do not enter an active zone of construction.

 John Saputo, Project Manager, 941-650-0022


Contact Information

  • construction questions – John Saputo (941) 650-0022
  • Pluris Southgate customer service – (888) 758-7471
  • utility connections – (941) 861-6767   [option 1]
  • financing connection fees – (941) 861-6767  [ option 3]
  • PCSSRP documents


N3 Sewers: Project Update 6.23.17

June 24, 2017

Next Steps

Signs of survey markings are showing up throughout the neighborhood as the contractor gets submittals approved and permits pulled.  The first evidence of construction we see will be the directional boring for underground crossings at Bermuda Brook and the two Seclusion Drives.  This is shown on the N3 Phasing Plan June 2017 as Phase 1.  The rest of the project is planned to proceed in numerical sequence.


Got questions?

John Saputo, Construction Project Manager for Sarasota County is available to address any questions or concerns you may have.  He can be reached at (941) 650-0022 or email




May 2017 Project Update

May 12, 2017


(You can access this page from the County website here:  Phillippi Creek Septic System Replacement Program Area N3)

Are we on the chopping block?

March 27, 2017

Current status

The December 20 post discussed the last official update of our sewer project: “The design is 100 percent complete with all required permits.  The project is currently advertised for construction bids.  Construction is expected to begin in Spring 2017 with an approximate 9-month construction duration.”  (Additional information can be found in the PCSSRP Monthly Status Report.)

Budget shortfall

Your N3 Committee has been closely following the progress of our neighborhood sewer project.  At the Feb 17 Budget Workshop county staff presented a Capital Improvement Project Prioritization to the Commissioners and the bottom line is there is not enough money for all projects.  So, which ones to cut?  When the PCSSRP was was discussed, Commissioner Maio asked for a report on “literature that has been provided and the expectations of owners.”

Budget Strategy Workshop March 29

This coming Wednesday Mar 29 the County Commission is holding another Budget Workshop.  The meeting starts at 9:00 AM and is open to the public.  Here is  page 85 from the presentation commissioners will see:

What should concerned residents do?

  • You can email commissioners at and ask them to approve Option 3.
  • Commissioner Maio asked what our expectations are: Let him know we expect to begin this Spring and be completed by December 2017
  • Attend the meeting on Wednesday and speak during either of the two the Open to the Public segments (click here for meeting agenda).
  • If you can’t attend the meeting you can view it by going to “Televised Meetings.”

Presentation for March 29 Budget Workshop

Here’s the full Presentation Package (Phillippi Creek Overview starts on pg. 71).

3-29 Presentation


Help! My septic tank is failing!

March 22, 2017

I have recently heard this from several N3 neighbors.  The next thing I’m asked is “when are we going to get our sewers?”  The answer is SOON (I hope!)  But what to do in the meantime?  Well, you gotta do what you gotta do.  The good news is that you may be able to get some help with your repair bills.

Will the County pay for my septic repairs?

Maybe… here’s a reimbursement schedule from the county website:

You can find the complete document here: Property Owner’s Guide  (scroll down to Credit for Septic system Repair)

Sewer installation… when is SOON?

I have not gotten any updates since the December 20, 2016 post.  Here’s an excerpt from that article:

Go to the PCSSRP Monthly Status Report and scroll down to Area N3. Under “Next Major Milestones” we’re told that construction will likely begin in March 2017.  We know that the construction contract bids are currently being reviewed, so this is probably an accurate forecast.

We’re fast approaching the end of March, so the construction start forecast is probably no longer accurate.  As soon as I get an update I’ll post it here.


Sarasota N3 Sewers is now Sarasota N3 Neighborhood

January 29, 2017

More than just sewers

The Sarasota N3 Sewers website was launched in 2012 for a single purpose: to halt the installation of the 216 grinder pumps planned for the N3 area of the  PCSSRP.  That goal has been realized.  In a win-win for the county and N3 residents, a hybrid gravity system using four pumps (instead of 216!) is slated to begin construction in a couple of months.  So, the county sewer issue is settled, but there are changes with our water provider, Pluris Southgate, Inc.

Pluris Southgate, Inc

Pluris began changing out the old mechanical water meters in late 2015 and all of us now have the new “smart” meters (scroll down to the Jan 22 post for more info). The next change from Pluris will be the roll-out of the new Personal Web Portal.  This new feature promises to be a very useful tool for us, the customer, to monitor our individual water usage.  However, the national trend to convert to these electronic “smart” meters has not been without problems: The last article listed only a few of the many reports from around the country. Tom Lyons said he was “flooded” with similar calls.  A few neighbors have written to me that their bills are higher than they used to be (more on that later), but N3 has not experienced the nightmares reported in other neighborhoods that use the same meters. While the 200-plus residents of N3 make up less than five percent of the 4,599 Pluris Southgate customers, Pluris says that “the number of customers questioning accuracy of water use has dropped significantly.” I’m sure that statement is accurate, but it takes only one “black swan” to be a nightmare (see Tom Lyons columns Jan 22 post).

Why the name change?

It looks like this website will be useful for things other than our sewer. There have been articles about the Florida Neighborhoods Conference, Red Bug Slough clean-up, Florida Yards and Neighborhoods program, and other topics that don’t involve our sewers.  So,  Sarasota N3 Neighborhood will continue to present information that will hopefully inform our residents.  If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

Sarasota County Budget Meeting

May 16, 2013

but first, a letter to the Commissioners

Prior to the May 14th Budget Workshop our neighbor Walt Menzel emailed the Commissioners regarding our neighborhood sewer project.  Two points Walt made:

(1) for areas already completed, “Mr. MacFarlane, Sarasota County, indicated that the total cost per home ranged from $9,000 to $13,000. He also indicated that every property owner pays the same price of $5,400. This means that some homeowners got a better deal than other homeowners. Of course, this makes sense and is expected as just the way government programs work. It is a way to spread the program cost out over many people”

(2) [the N3 area]  is one of the most environmentally sensitive areas of the program, [having] significant direct exposure to Phillippi Creek. 

Commissioner Robinson’s response

“I appreciate your sentiments about pollution and cost spreading, but in reality we have a great big balancing act full of more variables than that.  One thing I can promise you, we are reviewing N-3 and now the whole Septic Replacement System with the suggestions and ideas of the residents of N-3 in our minds.

Thank you for participating in the public process, your participation is making government better”.

May 14th meeting

This Budget Workshop had some real significance for our neighborhood!  Although not listed on the agenda, Commissioner Robinson introduces N3 into the discussion (17:40).  During the following conversations George MacFarlane states at least three times (20:38, 21:50, 22:18) that “N3 is presently funded for $3,000,000”. This is particularly good news because although Mr. MacFarlane claims a vacuum system for N3 could cost “as much as $3,600,000”, the N3 Committee Review  has shown a more realistic estimate of $2,630,558.

Commission approval

Although the official minutes have not been posted, this is on the meeting website:

Approved Option 2, to complete the current five year Capital Improvement Program using $8.4 million Surtax 3 funding with $12.5 million from the State Revolving Fund and to complete 12,430 total connections (82 percent of the Phillippi Creek Septic System Replacement Program)

what’s next?

The May 14th meeting was the third budget workshop this year.  There are two more scheduled in June (12th and 21st) and a final workshop is scheduled for Aug 20th.  The final budget will be adopted at Public Hearings in September.And don’t forget… we have an N3 “policy discussion” meeting coming up sometime in June.

watch the meetings

I encourage everyone to go online and view the meetings… watch the entire proceedings or go to the time stamps I have listed.

Here’s how: go to  On the right hand side of the homepage click on the blue box that says VIDEO CENTRAL.  Cursor over to left side menu, click on County Commission.  Find BCC  Budget Workshop  May 14, 2013, Video.  That’s all there is to it!

This is a great resource we have to be able to sit in on these meetings from the comfort and privacy of our homes.  How many communities have this service?… my guess is not many.  With our laptops and PCs we should all be able to participate. And as Commissioner Robinson tells us, our participation is making government better.

Did we find $1,500,000?

February 26, 2013

Design Technical Memorandum

On page 5 of the N3 Tech Memo 12-18-2012  you’ll find a table showing the estimated capital cost of a Vacuum system to be $3,363,000 and a Low Pressure system to be $2,114,000.  This indicates that low pressure grinder pumps are cheaper for our area by $1,249,000.  So, in order to make a Vacuum system cost effective for our area, we need to close this $1,249,000 “gap”.

Tech Memo Exhibit 5

Go to the last page of this report (Exhibit 5) and on line 12 you’ll find the grinder pump assemblies listed with a unit cost of $6000. With an estimated quantity of 196, the total amount for this line item is $1,176,000. This is the installed cost of the grinder pumps for our area N3 (the number of units should be 200, but for simplicity we’ll stick with 196).

Now let’s take a look at…

The Stantec Report

This is the Stantec Report (11/2006) that was discussed recently… I hope you’ve had a chance to read it.  In section 5 you’ll find this:

Stantec 2006 (pg. 5.3)

You can see that Stantec estimated the standard 158 gal grinder pump system at $9000 per unit, not the $6,000 used in the staff report. But never mind, because the Feb 13th BCC meeting clearly established that we’ll use the larger 375 gal systems.  So, 196 units at an installed cost of $14,400 each results in $2,822,400 that should appear on line 12 of the cost data sheet, not $1,176,000.

When $1,176,000 is replaced with $2,822,400, the bottom line is markedly different:  instead of costing $1,249,000 more than Low Pressure, the Vacuum system is actually  $397,400 less!

158:375 gal cost table

So, we started out trying to close a $1,249,000 gap.  We did that, plus we found and extra $397,400… I think we found the $1,500,000!

What’s next?

The Commissioners have directed staff to review not only our N3 Area, but future areas of the PCCSRP. I’m sure that including the extra capacity grinder pump tanks will change the conclusions of the December 18 Tech Memo.  This is a big job, and the Commissioners have given them several months to come back with an updated report. In the meantime I’ll be presenting information on other aspects of our neighborhood project.

(ed. note: all data used in this article came from documents furnished by Sarasota County.  I have no access to the consultants, equipment manufacturers, or other means to verify the data.  If the data is flawed, it came to me that way).  

Storm Survivial

February 10, 2013

That’s the title of a 2005 article from the civil engineering publication CE News.  The article describes experiences from Florida 2004, the “Year of the Hurricane”.  You’ll recall that was the year that wiped out the low pressure pump system in Rockridge, FL  (blog archives “Other Communities Experiences” 11/25/2012).  A vacuum system was later chosen to replace the low pressure pumps for the 416 Rockridge homes.

Of course the current weather news is snowstorms, not hurricanes. But swap a hurricane for a blizzard and the  catastrophic results are the same: no electricity for days or weeks, roads are impassable and help is difficult to come by.

Vacuum sewers withstand Florida’s hurricanes

Mike Ray, operations manager for Englewood Water District:  “We had all kinds of problems …, but the vacuum sewers never missed a beat.”

Robert Campbell, Village of Palm Springs:  We had zero occurrences of sewer spills from vacuum systems; other municipalities were allowing sewage to flow onto the ground because they had no power.”

James Moore, water dept. of Carrabelle (Fla panhandle):  Other than checking the fuel and oil in the backup power units, the vacuum sewers required none of our time… the system had no downtime and continued to service our customers.”

Craig Bliss, Water Reclamation Mgr. for Sarasota County: “The vacuum stations required very little preparation, and we never lost [sewer] service, even though we lost electrical power.” As vacuum systems are expanded, “that will mean a lot fewer headaches for us the next time a hurricane comes through”.

(Read the article CE News – Storm Survival  to learn more about real-life experiences here in Florida)

What about grinder pumps?

Although no sewer system is perfect, it is clear that vacuum systems perform well in storms and other power outage situations.  But let’s not demonize grinder pumps; it’s not as though the county is proposing to put Port-a-Potties in our yards.  In some situations grinder pumps can be the technology of choice. Ironically, some of those situations involve the most expensive homes: luxury lake front and beach front (read the Jan 22 post “Location, location. location…” in the archives under grinder pumps).  So, yes, we’ll use them where they are the best choice, but let’s keep the total number to a minimum so that county crews will be able to maintain them. Simply put, grinder pumps are not the best choice for our N3 neighborhood or for Sarasota County Utilities.

CE News – Storm Survival