Below you will find materials regarding the proposal from Environmental Utilities LLC to install central sewer on the Island. PIE encourages all stakeholders to be pro-active and keep informed about this important issue.
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THE PIE ACTION FUND was established in 2003 to help PIE prevent a private utility from installing central sewer on the Island. We are now engaged in the same fight.
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In October of 2016, Charlotte County hired consultants Jones Edmunds & Associates to develop a Sewer Master Plan which addressed water quality, wildlife impacts, impact on tourism, comparisons to neighboring areas, cost assessments. They then prioritized areas of concern.
Knight & Don Pedro Islands landed in the first 5 years of the 20-year utilities improvement plan. This was a result of scoring results in the following categories:
Proximity to water and water tables (score:5),
Density of septics per acre (score: 5),
Water testing in the general area (score:5)
Age of current septic systems (score:4)
We were, however, near the very bottom of a list of a dozen areas prioritized in the 5-year window primarily because we are not currently connected to county water and we are serviced by a private water utility.
At a County Commission meeting held on 1/30/2018 regarding the Septic to Sewer (S2S) subject, there was a presentation from CCUD (Charlotte County Utilities Department) with an overview and funding requests. The Commissioners voted to appropriate funds and begin converting to sewer in 3 areas: El Jobean East, Crestview Circle, and Ellicott Circle.
These three areas alone were estimated to take three years to complete, and the projects are currently behind schedule. Both CCU and the County Commission acknowledged that the 5-, 10-, and 15-year time frames were likely too aggressive. However, they were and are still committed to keep moving forward as quickly as possible.
Palm Island Resort has its own discreet water and wastewater system, Knight Island Utilities (KIU). KIU is a privately-owned utility and were facing large expenditures to keep their system updated to regulation specs for permitting. KIU has not operated under a County permit since 2016. At the time of the release of the Sewer Master Plan, KIU was already negotiating for a bulk sewer service agreement with CCUD. According to Diane Whidden, Assistant to Commissioner Truex, in 2017 they abandoned their existing wastewater treatment facility and asked Charlotte County to provide bulk sewer treatment. This is what Charlotte County agreed to do for Environmental Utilities as well – treat the sewage once it is piped to the mainland. Charlotte County has no interest in purchasing private utilities because of the substantial upgrade costs that were incurred in their past experiences.
Fast forward to April 8th, 2019. Jefferey Jacobsen, representing the Board of KIU, came to the PIE Board with a presentation and discussion of a “special district” for an Island-wide wastewater utility. After general questions were submitted by the board and subsequently answered, at the June PIE Board meeting it was determined that PIE could not endorse moving forward with an attorney to explore creation of a utility special district. Few individuals are familiar with the special district structure, most often confusing it with an MSBU or MSTU taxing unit.
On July 14th, 2020, the Charlotte County Board of Commissioners approved a Bulk Sewer Treatment Agreement with Environmental Utilities LLC (EU), a privately-owned wastewater utility company. The owners of the company are Jack and Diane Boyer, former Knight Island residents. Jack Boyer is also owner/operator of Little Gasparilla Water Utility, Inc.
EU has submitted a preliminary application with the Public Service Commission (PSC), the regulatory agency charged with oversight of water and wastewater utilities. The first part of the certification process is providing legal notice to the stakeholders in the proposed service area. The letter of legal noticewas dated December 17th, 2020 and has begun to arrive in our PO boxes and mailboxes. We now have 30 days to respond to the notice.
If you’d like to be listed as “interested persons” on the PSC's docket regarding the application for Environmental Utilities to provide wastewater services in Charlotte County, send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org. Reference Docket NO. 20200226-SU and include your email. This will put you on their email list to receive updates when any action is taken on EU's application. Be sure to request notification of informal meeting notices, FAW notices, all recommendations and final orders issued by the Commission.
Both individuals and organizations are entitled to file objections with the PSC to the provision of sewer service by the applicant, but they must be filed within 30 days of the receipt of notice.
If you would like to be listed as an “interested person” on the PSC's docket regarding the application for Environmental Utilities to provide wastewater services in Charlotte County, send a request to email@example.com. Reference Docket NO. 20200226-SU and include your email. This will put you on their email list to receive updates when any action is taken on EU's application. Identify yourself as a property owner within the proposed service area and be sure to request notification of informal meeting notices, FAW notices, all recommendations and final orders issued by the Commission.