Sunday, May 08, 2016

More FDEP environmental crime fines for City sewage spills

Outrageous that City had 18 sewage spills in less than one year.

City to be fined, again.

Fines should be paid by City Attorney, City Public Works Director and City Manager, not you.

Despicable that City staff would have originally placed this on "consent agenda." It should have full public comment.

When will they ever learn?

After no response to text messages and telephone calls to the City Manager, JOHN PATRICK REGAN, P.E.  I reported several of the spills to the National Response Center at the time, making it impossible for the City of St. Augustine to coverup its environmental crimes.

When will they ever learn? Eighteen sewage spills, some of which I reported to FDEP only after I reported them to City Manager without any response from him. How gauche and louche. Lincolnville is the "Pollution Peninsula," and the scourge of environmental racism persists. Much of the problem is the result of Robber Baron Henry Morrison Flagler, his hotels and Florida East Coast Railroad filling in Maria Sanchez Creek (now Cordova Street).

Let's explore the possibility of a lawsuit to make FEC Ry. pay for remediation of the frequent flooding and sewage spills.

St. Augustine, environmental agency reach agreement on sewer spills
Posted: May 7, 2016 - 11:02pm | Updated: May 7, 2016 - 11:21pm
The city of St. Augustine and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection are finalizing a plan to address 18 sanitary sewer overflows and spills that happened in the city over the course of several months.

The consent order, one of several issued for the city since 2008, requires a corrective action plan and for the city to pay a fine or do an in-kind project. It is up for approval at Monday’s City Commission meeting, and City Manager John Regan said he plans to pull it from the consent agenda for discussion.

The city plans to hire a consultant to handle the consent order projects. With penalties from the consent order or an in-kind project, the cost to the city could be more than $30,000.

The consent order is basically a working order between the city and the FDEP to find ways to minimize the discharge to the environment in the future, Regan said.

“In our case, over a period of time from July 2015 to February 2016, we had 18 events where we had some form of a sewage spill,” Regan said.

Several of those spills were related to heavy rains in September, some were from power failures, blockages, a faulty meter or equipment failure, according to the consent order. A sanitary sewer collects normal household waste.

The largest spill in that time frame was an 18,000-gallon spill in July caused by a faulty meter that caused a discharge into a waterway, according to the order. The order lists “E. Marina Cove” as the location of the incident.

The city typically has 8 to 10 spills a year, of varying size and impact, Graham said. The spills are reported regardless of size and whether they go into a body of water.

Several of the 18 spills cited in the FDEP’s consent order are 20 gallons or less.

“They’re challenged by very old infrastructure,” said Jim Maher, assistant director of the northeast district of the FDEP. But he added that he believes the city is headed in the right direction.

The city, “under its own initiative,” finished projects to minimize the impact of the spills and to help prevent something similar from happening in the future, according to the consent order.

Those projects include equipment and instrumentation replacements at a lift station worth $137,000 and “calling out emergency pump contractors and authorizing [the city] employee overtime to control [spills] during very high rain events at a total cost in excess of $60,000.”

The city also installed other equipment worth more than $80,000, and the city budgeted more than $990,000 for sewer infrastructure upgrades for fiscal year 2016, according to Graham.

A consent order is required at the will of the FDEP, and whether to issue a consent order is handled on a case-by-case basis, Maher said. There’s no set threshold for when one is issued.

“It was the number of incidents of the spills that made this appropriate for a consent order,” Maher said.

He said water quality violations resulting from some of the spills were also a factor in requiring the consent order.

The city has had at least four consent orders since 2008, excluding the current order, according to a document provided by Graham.

The latest consent order says that within 90 days of the order going into effect, the city will submit a Capacity Management Operations and Maintenance assessment report to the FDEP. That will include information on vulnerable areas that need improvement, Maher said.

The city will also make a Corrective Action Plan that addresses possible future spills based on what the assessment finds, according to the consent order. The city also has to come up with a plan of study that “should identify which areas in [the city’s] sewer system need additional work to prevent future [spills].”

The FDEP will decide whether to accept the city’s plans, and the city has to give FDEP updates on the plan’s implementation.

Penalties and other FDEP costs are also part of the consent order — the city has 30 days to pay $5,500 to the department, or they can implement an in-kind project that the department would approve.

Graham said the city would like to do an in-kind project but has not made a decision on a project.


Anonymous said...

The city of St Augustine would appear to have the infrastructure of a third world country. Everything seems to be handled with a band-aid approach. Drive the streets of the city (rough ride) and experience endless bumps due to excavational digs that install the aforementioned band-aids. A recurring theme seems to be that tourism must be protected at all costs. NOTHING should ever be shut down for infrastructure repairs. The roads of Tijuana Mexico provide a much more pleasant driving experience. Whether its sewage, lousy streets, congestion, St Augustine has it all. Tourism rules all. I pity the poor sucker residents that are on the hook for the power bill run up by the nights of lights. Poor rubes. The tourism industry reaps the profits while the collected fees associated with this expenditure never make it back in ways to benefit residents of the city. As growth explodes feel free to expect things will only get ALOT worse.

Anonymous said...

Right on....the city is full of a bunch of cracker rubes...these folks wouldn't even be assigned the task of making the coffee for real city government meetings elsewhere.

Point in fact- a normal town ( normal meaning non-tourist and not down "South" would enact a at least a temporary ban on new construction if the town suffered from an inadequate sewage treatment facility. But oh this town of hicks and fools they keep pressing ahead..and the idiots lavish praise on huge tourist construction such as is currently on the table with the lastest mess of a PUD ...the SIH PUD ...220 new hotel rooms and 70 new condos. Boy thats going to help prevent future sewage spills right? Idiots!

Everyone from the mayor to the idiot comissioners should be fired.

Ed Slavin said...

Come speak out against Sebastian Inland Harbor 5/23.

I think Mayor Nancy Shaver is doing a good job.

That is evidenced by her conducting fair hearings and voting correctly on DOW PUD (CORDOVA INN) (4-1 vote), 7-Eleven at May and San Marco (5-0) vote), privatization of former Salt Run Community Center with below-cost, no-bid Yacht Club lease (4-1 vote), my right to standing to challenge Carpenter's House demolition (4-1 vote) and her sincere efforts to ask questions and audit no-bid 450th contracts.

Mayor Shaver needs more people like her -- colleagues with independence, intelligence, integrity and creativity -- enough BOLES-WEEKS clan.

Anonymous said...

Alright maybe...just maybe you are correct. But in my book doing the right thing..being honest and supporting just causes doesn't get you brownie points because well duh..that is just normal and expected behavior. In plain terms not stealing doesn't deserve praise and awards.

Mayor Shaver certainly has her heart in the right place and yes she has voted the "right" way on numerous issues BUT where is the leadership and out of the box thinking? Is she fighting the SIH PUD...I thought it passed to the 2nd reading 5 to she fighting to ban additional construction and over loading our sewers system..haven't heard it if she about solar power ...has she put forth any keen neato ideas..nope..How about requiring city impact fees..any word from her?

the 1st commentor made a great point..why should I as resident have to pay for the nights of lights power bill..I hate the darn lights after say 1/5..its like Vegas and I expect Wayne Newton is lurking behind street corners. Whats the Mayor's take...haven't heard..

So yeah..I guess in a special ed like area with low standards take what you can get and Shaver isn't "bad" but she ain't good either. My comment that these leaders wouldn't be assigned coffee detail in any other progressive area stands. Lets compare shall we..Lake Placid built a small hydro plant on a small 4 ft waterfall damn to produce electricity to make hydrogen gas to power the newly converted city fleet which uses power cells..CA has huge solar projects and wind farms..and onward..COSA has ...tourists and stupid leaders some of which have good hearts and aren't as stupid as the others..Kuddos..lets celebrate! Our Mayor isn't a crook and is not as dumb as average hear!

Anonymous said...

Have to add...I do agree that Ms. Shaver has supported the right additional question is what..what support has she developed on the comission? They hate her guts..its almost open warfare. a vote of 4-1 with Nacy being the 1 doesn't help me or you or the city.

Yes..fellow elected officials are hostile and poor reps BUT the Mayor's job is to build support and push through her objectives. Something I have not witnessed happen.

Can't be done you say...can't over come the horrible mind set of the other elected reps? Hogwash..I have read you worked for a certain Democratic Senator...the very same Senator who was the poster boy of hatred for the GOP...yes? So let me ask you this...did this poster boy of radical conservative hate accomplish anything during his many years in office...did he bridge the divide..find a way to make things work or did he wallow in excuses ...but hey hate me...that is why we lost hoo...those darn haters don't think..blah blah blah.

My memory might be wrong but I seem to remember this Senator was a greta man who accomplished great things and he readily walked across the aisle when he needed to. Shaver is learning..good but she isn't close yet to being effective or a good leader. 4-1 doesn't do me squat

I'll also agree she has her hands full dealing with current issues vs setting forth new lofty goals...but I don't see progress in that regard either.

A few meager wins on the right'll party later. Stop all this insane development...fix city hall ..throw out Reagan and David B...enact strict ethical guidelines..enforce zoning violations..great..thats a win but to date.

Some day I hope to see LED street lights..LED Nights of Lights ( with business required to chip in) solar power, better sewers..less trafic and real urban planning plus mass transit but it wont be in my life time thats for sure...we can even handle a rain storm without sewers running open in the streets. Like I said..stupid in ...stupid out...Good luck to you!

Ed Slavin said...

SIH vote on 2nd reading is 5/23. Only passed on first reading, which means nothing. Come speak out 5/23

Anonymous said...

Ok..good directive from you. I will! Please excuse my horrible spelling...the Record proofed it though...:)

My hope is that we strive ...demand better leadership and that we don't settle for merely adequate. I like Nancy..great individual...good heart..would I hire her to run a large corporation such as our City? I don't she the best out of the current canidates..I'd say yes...does that leave me with warm happy feeling..nah. Back to me special ed example.

One day we might demand better and my answer will change..sadly I'll be underground and won't live to see it. But sure..I'll speak out at meetings...
lets hope I am wrong and Nancy will "grow" into the job..but we have to point this out to her vs gushing..oh we are so happy you aren't a crook...thank you..bless you...thank you

Anonymous said...

gotta say in hindsight..sure..ok I'll speak out against the SIH PUD..but where the "H" is the movement? Huh? The dow PUD a mere 30 rooms..all "H" break loose..BUT the SIH PUD...220 rooms/70 Condos naray a peep. Mind you the 2nd reading is a mere few weeks away...outrage..sure ..I have heard on the street..movement to stop it..zilch. It will pass..hands down.

Town gets what it deserves. And please stop all the nonsense whining over spewing sewers...nobody seems to give two hoots that the SIH PUD will make the sewer problem so much I ask...where the "H" is the anti PUD group. Sleeping...but bash the Dow PUD..alrighty:) Signs Dow PUD...Pro Dow PUD...pimple on elephants butt compared to this

Ed Slavin said...

All good points.


1. SIH approved years ago, under the ancien regime. Now we have a chance for concessions.

2. DOW PUD was a stench in the nostrils of our City. HP-1 neighborhood screwed. Former Vice Mayor and two HARB members purchased by CORNEAL. DOW MUSEUM was funded with $2.1 million in state funds, then sold to speculator for $1.7 million. DOW PUD stinketh the most.

Ed Slavin said...

Extension for SIH should be DENIED.

Anonymous said...

Right on...I agree with you! Yes the DOW PUD was a stench, yes the mayor is trying...I just wish she could pull it together better but perhaps this next election will help give her support on the commission..and yes the SIH PUD extension should be denied.

It was drafted ten years ago and the city has changed since that time...traffic, overloaded sewer system and on and on. Now I don;t say that nothing should be build there but as you note we need concessions from the builder vs just handing over a sweetheart deal. The builder only paid $4.7 something million for almost 10 acres of prime real estate that has a marina in place and a PUD approved ( costs a bundle to get a PUD approved). Wow...that is s steal of a deal ..he/she can afford to make some concessions!

Hope you are right and that the City will toughen up