Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is the difference between a hot spot and a cold spot ?
A. During development of the Monroe County Wastewater Master Plan these terms were used to differentiate between areas that will be served by central wastewater (centralized) and those areas that will not have central wastewater service available (decentralized). Properties located in hot spots have been determined to be within the central service area and these properties will be required to connect to the central system when it is available. Properties in cold spots will not have central wastewater service available, but will still be required to comply with the State mandated 2015 wastewater standards.
Q. How were hot spots and cold spots decided?
A. If it costs the same to connect a property to the central system as it would to install a new onsite system, it is more beneficial to both the environment and your pocketbook to connect to the central system. In general, very low density areas that are far from a feasible connection point to the central system were designated as cold spots.
Q. If I am in an area designed for central wastewater service will I be required to connect?
A. Where central wastewater service is available, per Monroe County Code, all developed properties are required to connect the central system.
Q. If my current onsite system meets the required Best Available Technology (BAT) standards do I have to connect to the central wastewater system?
A. All developed properties within a hot spot are required to connect to the central system regardless of having an existing BAT compliant system. Properties with a BAT compliant system in cold spot areas do not need to connect to the system, or upgrade their existing wastewater system, and only need to maintain their system in order to remain compliant with the State mandate. These properties will not be assessed.
Q. If I am not included in the central system will I be required to comply with the 2015 standard on my own?
A. Yes, however, striving to minimize impacts to cold spot areas, the FKAA has worked out a partnership agreement with the Florida Department of Health (DOH) and Monroe County that will allow the FKAA to design, construct and operate Onsite Wastewater Nutrient Removal Systems (OWNRS) on private properties in cold spot areas. This voluntary program is referred to as the Decentralized (Onsite) Wastewater Program. For more information on opting‐in to the Program please continue to the Decentralized Wastewater section of this document.
Q. Will property owners be fined if they are not connected by the State‐mandated 2015 deadline?
A. The cooperating agencies are working diligently to prevent any fines from being levied against hot spot property owners and those cold spot property owners that choose to opt‐in to the FKAA Onsite Program.
Q. How much will the assessment be per dwelling unit?
A. The County commission has set the wastewater assessment at $4,500 per Equivalent Dwelling Unit (EDU).
Q. When will properties be assessed?
A. Central Service Area – Developed Properties being served by the central system have received their assessment notices. Assessments not paid by August 31, 2012 were levied on the tax bill. Decentralized (Onsite) Wastewater Program ‐ Assessments for those properties opting‐in to the Onsite Program are scheduled to commence in 2014.
Q. If I have more than one residential unit how will I be assessed?
A. Each unit identified by the Monroe County Property Appraiser will be assessed one Equivalent Dwelling Unit (EDU). For example a duplex would be considered 2 EDUs and would pay for 2 units (2X assessment amount).
Q. How are assessments calculated for non‐residential properties?
A. Non‐residential properties will be assessed based according to their water consumption.
Q. I have a commercial property that uses a lot of potable water for irrigation. Will my assessment calculation include this consumption?
A. Commercial properties that have excessive potable water use that does not return to the wastewater system may want to consider applying for an irrigation meter. Consumption from irrigation meters will not be considered in the assessment calculation. Please call the FKAA at (305) 296‐2454 for details on obtaining an irrigation meter.
Q. Will vacant parcels be assessed?
A. Property owners will not be assessed for vacant parcels.
Q. What are the property owner’s responsibilities?
A. Property owners’ responsibilities will vary slightly depending on the type of wastewater system serving the property. In general, centralized properties will be required to extend a 4-inch PVC lateral from the house to a wastewater connection point provided by the FKAA, and to decommission the existing septic tank. Some properties may be required to make an electrical connection to a small grinder pump control panel.
Properties owners in cold spots opting in to the voluntary Onsite Wastewater Program will have to extend a 4-inch PVC lateral from the house to the OWNRS installed by the FKAA. In addition, the homeowner will have to supply sufficient electrical power to the OWNRS’s control panel. Each property will be different so the FKAA will work directly with these property owners on a case-by-case basis. For further information please contact Joshua W. Peele, Environmental Specialist at (305) 809-2636, or electronically using our contact form.
Q. May I convert my existing septic tank into a cistern rather than decommission the tank?
A. Yes, the Department of Health (DOH) will allow septic tanks to be converted to cisterns. Please contact the DOH at (305) 809‐5670 for more information on their specific requirements.
Q. What are the costs associated with a lateral installation?
Septic/Cesspit Abandonment (DOH) is $90
Lateral Installation Permit (County) is $70
Varies depending on the length of the run and obstacles encountered
Past experience indicates costs between $1,500 and $5,000.
Property owners that live in the residential dwelling may be allowed to complete their own lateral installation. Consult with County Building Department for requirements.
Q. Is funding available to assist residents with connection costs?
A. Funding assistance for connection costs is available for income eligible residents. Funding is limited and applications are funded on a first come first ready basis. Please see Monroe County’s Sewer Connection Webpage at http://www.monroecounty-fl.gov/index.aspx?NID=402, or call the funding administrator at 305‐294‐1000 for more information.
Q. When will the system be ready for homeowner connections?
A. The connection process will be phased. Homeowner’s can expect to receive invitations to connect to the system by 2016 at the latest.
Q. I am a renter; how will this project affect me?
A. Renters are not directly responsible for paying assessments or ensuring the connection to the system is completed. Once operational a wastewater base facility charge and a wastewater flow charge will appear on the water bill (a flat rate will apply for homes without potable water service). As always, the account holder or property owner is responsible for payment of the monthly bill.
Q. I live in an RV/mobile home park; how will I be assessed?
A. If you own the individual parcel you will be assessed for that parcel. If the lots are not individually owned the park owner will be assessed based on consumption. It will be up to the park to determine how to recover the costs from tenants.
Q. Does each property in an RV park complete its own connection to the central system?
A. The existing internal plumbing configuration in the park can, for the most part, remain the same if properly functioning.
Q. What type of wastewater system will be installed?
A. Multiple technologies, including gravity and low pressure systems, will be employed to efficiently contend with the diversity of the district.
Low Pressure Sewer (LPS) - Grinder Pumps & Easements
Q. What is a grinder pump station?
A. Used in conjunction with a low pressure wastewater system, grinder pumps receive wastewater from the home, grind and macerate the material into a fine slurry, and discharge into a small diameter pressure piping collection system. These grinder pump stations are approximately 30 inches in diameter and will extend underground approximately 5 feet. There is also a small 1.25‐ inch diameter discharge pipe that connects the grinder pump to the force main located in the road right‐of‐way in front of the house.
Q. Why does my property require a grinder pump station?
A. Grinder pump stations provide a reliable solution for transporting wastewater from homes in lower density areas, where conventional gravity sewer collection systems are not practical. In addition, grinder pumps allow for small‐diameter pipes to be installed without extensive disruption to your neighborhood.
Q. Do I have to pay for the grinder pump station?
A. Monroe County is responsible for covering the installation cost of the grinder pump station, and it is the FKAA’s responsibility to construct, maintain and operate the pump station and piping system. The FKAA will credit the anticipated electrical costs, at a predetermined rate, for operating the grinder pump station.
Q. Where will this grinder pump station be installed?
A. The grinder pump station and the 1.25‐inch diameter discharge pipe will be installed by the FKAA on the homeowner’s property. The FKAA will work closely with homeowners to insure the grinder pump is installed in the optimal location with the least impact to the homeowner.
Q. Can I landscape around the grinder pump station once it’s installed?
A. Yes, the homeowner may landscape around the grinder pump station. The FKAA requests that care is taken to avoid damage to the grinder pump station caused by planting trees with large or aggressive root systems near to the station.
Q. Why do I need an easement if I’m in a Low Pressure Sewer (LPS) area?
A. An easement is required so the FKAA may have access to your property for installation and maintenance of the grinder pump station. The easement has no effect on the marketability, mortgaging or conveyance of your property.
Q. Why does the easement not specify an exact location on my property?
A. The easement agreement made available by the FKAA provides the owner with the ability to select the pump station location and the easement will then be restricted to this location with 5 feet of working area on either side of the grinder pump station and discharge piping.
Q. How big are grinder pump stations?
A. The grinder pump station is located underground. The station is approximately 30 inches in diameter and will extend underground to a depth of approximately 5 feet.
Q. What do I need to know about my grinder pump?
A. Instead of all the wastewater in your home from toilets, showers, dishwashers, sinks, etc. flowing to a septic system and into the marine environment, the wastewater will empty into the grinder pump station. When the water in the tank reaches a certain level, the pump will turn on automatically and pump out the wastewater to the sewer system. Take care not to dump oil, grease, paint, strong chemicals, sand, kitty litter, etc. down your drain. Personal hygiene products should be disposed of in a garbage can. These items should not be introduced into any sewer or septic system; they can damage or cause premature problems (parts wearing out) with the pump, or build up in the tank and prevent the pump from working properly.
Q. What do I have to do to connect to the grinder pump station?
A. The homeowner will be responsible for extending a 4‐inch PVC lateral from the house to the grinder pump station. In addition, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to make the electrical connection to the station’s nearby control panel.
Q. What are the electrical requirements for the grinder pump?
A. The grinder pump will require a 120/240 V single‐phase, 30 AMP circuit.
Q. Is this a replacement for septic or onsite treatment?
A. Yes, this is a collection and transportation device; but will not take the place of treatment. The sewage is pumped to the wastewater treatment plant where it will be treated to the highest standards. Installation of the grinder pump station will allow for the abandonment and decommissioning of the old and failing on‐site systems.
Q. What about backups?
A. Back ups are rare and can be avoided by promptly alerting FKAA when the panel alarm has gone off. A call to the FKAA will result in a prompt visit by a qualified FKAA technician at no charge. The grinder pumps are designed as an appliance like your refrigerator, dishwasher, water heater, etc., with an average Mean Time Between Service Calls (MTBSC) of 8 to 10 years.
Q. What is the duration of operation per day?
A. The pumps operate between 10 and 20 minutes per day for typical residential houses.
Q. What is the flow rate of the pump?
A. The pumps operate between 8 and 15 gallons per minute depending on the pumping head.
Q. What is the size of the lines from the grinder pumps to the street network?
A. The low pressure lateral service line is typically 1.25 inches in diameter.
Q. How noisy is the pump?
A. With an outdoor unit buried in the ground, you will not hear it at all if you’re 10 or 15 feet away. If you’re standing on top of it, it sounds like a low hum.
Q. What if the power goes out?
A. FKAA has designed the system with a larger tank to provide the maximum amount of storage during power outages. Limit your water usage as much as possible. The tank has storage capacity and should be adequate for the short term because you are not using the dishwasher, washing machine, etc. When the power comes on again, the alarm may go off for a short time—this is normal because the water could be above the pump’s alarm level and the pump needs a few minutes to pump down the tank to a normal level. If the alarm does not turn off, contact the FKAA. For long term power outages, the pumps are capable of being periodically run by a portable generator.
Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP)
Q. Where is the wastewater treatment plant going to be located?
A. The treatment plant will be located on an abandoned portion of the Cudjoe Key Transfer Station. This disturbed, county‐owned property is located in a remote section of Cudjoe Key away from U.S. 1 and residential neighborhoods.
Q. Who will monitor the quality and effectiveness of this system?
A. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) requires testing of influent and effluent throughout the day to ensure that the treatment process is meeting the stringent advanced wastewater treatment standards. Daily testing results are recorded by the FKAA and reported to the FDEP.
Q. What is the proposed capacity of the wastewater treatment plant?
A. The proposed wastewater treatment plant will have a design capacity of 0.96 million gallons per day.
Q. What will be done with the biosolid residuals generated by the wastewater treatment plant?
A. The biosolid residuals will be removed by a licensed hauler and delivered to a sludge disposal facility outside of Monroe County.
Q. What happens when the electrical power is out at wastewater treatment plant?
A. A stand‐by generator will power the treatment plant, while pump stations will be powered by portable generators to prevent uninterrupted service for gravity collection systems. Low pressure grinder pump stations have reserve storage capacity for a multi‐day power outage.
Q. Will reclaimed water be available?
A. The feasibility of installing reclaimed water lines is currently under review.
Decentralized (Onsite) Wastewater Program
Q. What is the Decentralized (Onsite) Wastewater Program?
A. The Decentralized Wastewater Program is a partnership agreement with the Florida Department of Health (DOH) and Monroe County, funded in part by the EPA, which will allow the FKAA to design, construct and operate Onsite Wastewater Nutrient Removal Systems (OWNRS) on private properties in cold spot areas. The program is offered to those properties that are located outside of the Centralized System. The program is optional allowing property owners in these areas to opt‐in or opt out. More info will be provided at www.fkaa.com/Wastewater‐Cudjoe.htm, as it becomes available.
Q. If I opt into the FKAA Decentralized On‐Site Program will I be assessed the same as a hot spot?
A. Yes, the FKAA will assess participants in the On‐site Program the same as those in the Central System, which the County commission has set at $4,500 per Equivalent Dwelling Unit (EDU).
Q. Who can I call for additional information?
A. Our contact page has contact information broken down by category and a web for that lets you communicate electronically.