Property owners in the Wekiva Springs area have taken a stand against the Mandates of the Wekiva Springs Basin Management Plan which calls for the elimination of all septic systems. The plan will cost home owners and taxpayers a minimum of $50M with no guarantee it will benefit Wekiva Springs.
But, the members of the Wekiva Study Area Coalition have taken a unique approach to fighting back. In August, 2018, it filed a formal complaint with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Inspector General requesting four allegations be investigated.
Complaint One: the Florida Department of Heath ignored and wasted $5 million of taxpayer money given to it by the Legislature to conduct a “comprehensive review of existing or ongoing studies on passive technologies” and then field-test “nitrogen reducing technologies at actual home sites for comparison of conventional, passive technologies and performance-based treatment systems…” Rather than conducting the tests funded, FDOH designed its own electrically powered solutions and deliberately excluded commercially available passive nitrogen reducing solutions or Performance Based Treatment Systems. This prevented any cost comparisons to be formulated. The FDOH and FDEP should be held accountable for their failure to perform this task funded by our money.
Complaint Two: the BMAP committee was corrupted by conflict of interest. Indeed, the BMAP committee, comprised largely of government officials, included a representative from an industrial lobbyist group, the Florida Onsite Wastewater Association (FOWA). FOWA is a customer of FDOH, operating training of its members under contract from FDOH. By being an official committee member, it was in a position to steer the plan’s solutions in directions benefitting it membership.
Complaint Three: $2 Million of our money is being inappropriately committed to fund testing of a privately-owned septic system product. The company, OnSyte, Is represented by WSource Capital Group whose personnel are former FDEP employees. The Vice President of OnSyte is a former FDEP Division of Water Resources employee. The OnSyte product is being misrepresented as a sewer system allowing it to bypass normal government testing of such systems. It is electrically powered and the effluent produced through this product has no connection to any sewer system. Nevertheless, plans call for 200 systems to be installed at a cost of $10,000 each. There is no public information available as to how these systems will be monitored, evaluated, or replace should they fail.
Complaint Four: homeowners within the Wekiva BMAP have been unfairly targeted for financial harm. They were legally permitted by prior laws, statutes and regulations (Rules) to install their present, passive septic system technology. This technology is found by EPA definitions to be nitrogen reducing and adequate when maintained. But now, these homeowners must replace their permitted and effective systems with systems which are unproven, more expensive, more complex, and dependent on electricity. There seems to be no evidence that the 600 NSF245 advanced systems in operation around our state have been tracked and evaluated under field conditions for effectiveness. In addition to extensive homeowner costs, home values are threatened by BMAP’s mandate to record the type of septic system on property deeds.
BMAP has become a non-solution attempting to fix a problem beyond its control. It has been designed to harm homeowners with unproven, costly, high maintenance technology while developers of such ineffective products make a financial killing. Think of the windfall to be had when government mandates a product that, ultimately, will need to be purchased by 2.5 million homeowners.
Gee, this feels like Obamacare “dejavou” all over again. Thank you to all those in the Wekiva Study Area Coalition for standing up and demanding an investigation of big government regulatory overreach.