Will county allow sewage dumping on the Little Manatee River? Let’s say NO!
Chris’s Plumbing Service is asking Hillsborough County to let them dump human excrement, commercial sludge, and restaurant grease on the banks of the Little Manatee River’s wetlands.
Chris’s Plumbing Service runs a huge commercial septic operation, pumping waste out of portable toilets, residential and commercial septic tanks, and restaurant grease traps. They have applied for a special use permit to spread 50,000 gallons a day (!!!) — 600 tons a year (!!!) of “biosolids & sludge” across an 80-acre site that sits on the Little Manatee River system. A large part of the site is wetlands that flow right into the river.
This sewage will obviously end up in the river — and from there it will flow into Tampa Bay. It will cause devastating, stinking fish kills and human health dangers.
The Little Manatee River, and its associated tributaries, is an undammed, tidal river system that floods frequently. It overflows its banks with every summer storm, especially in the river’s upper reaches where this site is located. Hurricanes bring the floodwaters higher.
Of course Chris’s Plumbing’s site plan includes a 200-foot setback from the wetlands, but this undammed river is extremely dynamic, so the shape of its wetlands are constantly changing, its oxbows and bends are constantly shifting, and heavy storms erode its banks. The regular floods, rainwater runoff, and the dynamic action of the river itself, along with the enormous amount of pollutants dumped daily, all but guarantee that literally TONS of toxic waste spread on this site will wash into the river, and flow out to Tampa Bay.
My family & friends swim in this river. Children water-ski here. Many people, residents and tourists, fish in this river — and eat the fish they catch.
These waters provide important nursery habitat for many of Tampa Bay’s prized fish such as snook, redfish, blue crabs and tarpon. I’ve seen diamondback terrapins, seahorses, otters, manatees and dolphins here. Many species of birds wade & fish in the river and its wetlands.
The Little Manatee River is wonderfully wild and pristine. It is designated an Outstanding Florida Water, and many miles of it are included in the Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve. It would be unconscionable to poison it.
3 things you can do:
1.) Contact your County Commissioners and ask them to insist that EPC oppose this.
Be sure to reference “Special Use permit application SU 17-0510, by Chris’s Plumbing Services, inc.” at the top of your message.
- Tell them that you are contacting them in their role as Hillsborough County’s Environmental Protection Commissioners, and you think the EPC ought to oppose this application.
- EPC has reported that they have NO OBJECTIONS to this Special Use Permit. They simply added the usual boilerplate zoning conditions noting that further permits will be required to carry out the plan. If the EPC does not object, it will be very hard for us citizens to convince the Hearing Officer to deny this.
- It is unacceptable that our EPC would not object to this special use permit that will allow 50,000 gallons per day (!!!) — 600 tons a year (!!!) of human excrement, commercial sludge, and restaurant grease to be spread over 80 acres that contain large wetlands that flow into the Little Manatee River.
- There are better ways to dispose of septage, including taking it to sewer plants for treatment and dumping it in landfills. Ask them to ask Chris’s Plumbing to use a better way to dispose of septage.
- see more points above. Include your own personal notes about the importance of protecting the Little Manatee River & Tampa Bay.
Contact Commissioners on their contact form.
Or email them:
Stacy White <email@example.com>,
Sandy Murman <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
Al Higginbotham <email@example.com>,
Ken Hagan <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
Victor Crist <email@example.com>,
Les Miller <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
Pat Kemp <email@example.com>
Or call them: 272-5660
You can also email the EPC staff.
2.) Email the Land Use Hearing Officer (LUHO) who will make the final decision.
The commissioners do not decide this matter. The LUHO renders the decision after one public hearing. We can only hope that EPC and others will provide comment that will convince the LUHO to deny this application.
Put this in the subject line, and at the top of your letter:
“Opposition to SU 17-0510”
Sign it with your name & mailing address, so the county can mail you updates if the hearing date changes.
Address your letter to “Land Use Hearing Officer for SU-17-0510.” Ask him/her to deny application SU 17-0510, for the reasons above, and/or any other reasons you may have — the more scientific & objective, the better.
Your letter must be received 2 business days prior to the hearing, or presented at the hearing (Aug. 21).
Or mail your letters to:
Land Use Hearing Officer – SU 17-0510
P.O. Box 1110
Tampa, FL 33601
3.) Come to the Public Hearing — new date!
Monday, August 21, 6:00 p.m.
County Center, 2nd floor boardroom
601 E. Kennedy, Tampa, FL 33602
Agenda will be posted here.
Check this agenda before you go, to see any last-minute changes — look for SU 17-0510. (The date has been postponed before, and could be again.)
You can speak to the hearing officer yourself, or simply stand with those who do speak against this. If you speak, please be very brief (2–3 minutes) to allow time for everyone, because they only allow 15 minutes total speaking time for all the citizens in opposition.
More information & resources:
Contact the County Case Planner for more info
Marshall Robinson, 813-276-8406, <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Site Plan
- Permit Application Statement
- EPC Comments
- Disease-causing pathogens in class B septic sludge
- Site location on state Outstanding Florida Water map
- Map of county & state public lands impacted by this project
- Map of site location on the Little Manatee River (also shown above)
- Aerial view of the site (also shown above)
- Facebook event page — mark “interested” or “going” to stay updated on the public hearing.
- News Channel 8 TV #1 — initial video – great coverage (with dolphins!).
- News Channel 8 TV #3 — video of citizens at the County Commission meeting.
- WMNF Radio news — I discuss the issue with Seán Kinane.
- ABC Action News TV — video with Gus Muench & me.
- News Channel 8 TV #4 — Sophia Ruiz & son rounded up 500 opposition letters, and hand-delivered them to county center.