Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Friday, December 30, 2011
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State sues marina over wastewater issues

State environmental officials are suing a Monroe County marina and seeking tens of thousands of dollars in fines over permitting and paperwork issues related to a wastewater treatment facility.

Cross Key Marina, a 20-slip private marina on the northern tip of mainland Monroe County in Manatee Bay, has failed to legally operate its 5,000-gallon wastewater treatment facility since Sept. 10, 2008, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)'s civil lawsuit.

The marina specifically has failed to: hire someone to operate the facility since Jan. 11, 2011; conduct health and safety samplings of treated wastewater; submit quarterly reports to DEP; and pay $2,000 in fines due by July, according to the seven-page lawsuit.

DEP wants a judge to fine the marina $10,000 for each day it was not in compliance -- the maximum penalty, according to the lawsuit. The courts will determine whether and when the marina was in compliance or not.

The DEP's press office declined to comment on the pending lawsuit, said spokeswoman Dee Ann Miller.

Former marina owner Doug Hurst said he had been "going back and forth" with DEP for years over the wastewater treatment facility, which he said was installed in the late 1970s.

Hurst said he lost the marina in a November foreclosure, meaning the new owner is the bank, Evans Financial Services. Monroe County Clerk of Court records indicate the bank became the owner on Nov. 21.

Hurst said he had paid $4,000 in fines and hired a third-party contractor to do $10,000 in improvements to the wastewater facility, but that person took his money and didn't complete the project.

"It costs about $700 to $1,000 a month to operate," Hurst said. "It was a very pricey thing."

Hurst said the wastewater treatment plant treats wastewater from a "couple of bathrooms and a commercial kitchen that is not in use. ... It's not getting a whole lot of use at all," he said.

The treatment plant pumps wastewater from the marina into a holding tank and aerates it to separate water and solid waste. The former is treated and pumped into an injection well while the latter is pumped out, he said.

The suit was filed in Judge Luis Garcia's circuit court on Dec. 21.

alinhardt@keysnews.com

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