August 9, 2017

KEY LARGO — The Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority has an Environmental Protection Act grant that could help Cross Keys residents finally comply with the state mandate to install advanced wastewater treatment systems, according to Key Largo’s interim sewer district manager.

The small neighborhood along the 18-Mile Stretch at the county line was left to its own devices to achieve compliance after the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District board decided it would be too costly to connect the mile marker 112 community to the district’s main treatment plant.

Property owners there are facing fines from the Florida Department of Health in Monroe County for not having advanced wastewater treatment systems in place. The deadline was Dec. 31, 2015.

The health department’s Bill Brookman recently said enforcement action is imminent.

FKAA has recommended that the district develop a plan to sewer the Key Largo subdivision that can be presented to the EPA, according to Peter Rosasco, the district’s interim general manager.

Rosasco said the EPA would either have FKAA do the project or transfer the money to the district to perform the work.

The grant total is $750,000 and would cover up to 75 percent of the cost of building and installing an onsite vacuum system, according to Rosasco’s estimates. He projects the total cost to fall between $1 million and $1.25 million. There are 45 equivalent dwelling units in the subdivision.

The board directed staff engineer Ed Castle to cost engineer the project in conjunction with FKAA’s engineers.

District Commissioner Sue Heim, however, dissented, saying the board had already passed a resolution to not sewer the outlying subsection and that Castle shouldn’t spend “carte blanche” hours on such a system. 

Castle estimated his work would take five hours in total as most of the information is readily available.

“I don’t approve of this at all,” Heim said, adding, “The ongoing maintenance is cost-prohibitive.”