duck key

An Information Guide to Duck Key in the Florida Keys
























Duck Key Wastewater News - December 2007



1. How Duck Key was exempted from Conch Key Wastewater Project because of politics. Political ruse kept Duck Key from being included.

2. Ed Swift letter "State of Florida's sewer priorities are not sync with reality".

3. Keys struggles to obtain sewer funding while U.S. will pay for Tijuana, Mexico plant

4. Duck Key Wastewater District - FKAA Update July 2007

5. Wastewater Presentation to Duck Key Property Owners June 19, 2007


Duck Key was exempted

In a letter to the editor in the Marathon Weekly dated November 10, 2007 Commissioner George Neugent responded to John Bartus' Key Disease column.

As part of the Neugent letter, the Commissioner provided a list of mistakes and screw ups created by a majority of the Monroe County Commssion. One of the mistakes listed should be of interest to Duck Key community residents.

The " exemption of Duck Key & Hawk's Cay from the Conch Key project which was a clear political ruse at the expense of taxpayers."

Since Hawk's Cay offered to turn over the existing sewage treatment plant to the County as part of getting approval for the resort's modification and extension of the development project, one might think that the residential community of Duck Key should have been included in the Conch Key project. The plant was located on Duck Key and the community would certainly bear the impact of the Hawk's Cay Resort expansion, i.e., noise, vandalism, car and pedestrian traffic.

How did Duck Key get exempted from the sewage project?

According to Commissioner Neugent in a recent email

"Monroe County was prepared to include Duck Key and Hawk’s Cay in one planned project which also included Conch Key. At a BOCC meeting with the FKAA, County and an Independent engineer they all agreed that should be the stand alone project which would in the future tie into the Crawl Key collection system – it was a no-brainer which included FEMA un-met needs money from Hurricane Georges. It was to be done, and now would be completed, with a $2,500.00 hook-up fee. Upon the called vote, after I argued strongly for the project because I could see some underlying forces working against it due to the late commissioner Nelson arguing against it, Sonny leaned over to me and said, “George, you’re right but Ken Sorensen called me and told me to vote with Murray” – along with Dixie. That was the Genesis of the Gang of three. I had met with Pritim Singh on the donation of the plant, and DUCK POA for their support but was torpedoed by the 3 due to Ken’s disdain for the FKAA. True story.
Anyway that’s why you’re not done with being sewered."


Where was the money in the County coffers that was to be spent on Conch Key AND Duck Key? The money was to come from "FEMA Unmet needs money".

Who got the money? It "mostly went to wastewater projects the lion's share to Key Largo – 1M$ went to Conch Key and some to affordable housing projects."

Monroe County Commissioner Nelson represented Key Largo and the Upper Keys. District 120 State Representative Ken Sorensen's place of residence is Key Largo. Ken Sorensen was term-limited and was succeeded by Ron Saunders in 2006.


Duck Key did obtain grant funding provided by the South Florida Water Management District.

Phase 1 of the Duck Key reclaimed water project began this summer 2007 for the Center Island Subdivision of Duck Key.

Tower for reclaimed water located on Utility island


2. Ed Swift submits in his letter Key West Citizen that the State of Florida's sewer priorities are not sync with reality. Swift is president of Historic Tours of America.

He writes

"The longer I live the more surreal it becomes.

[On] Dec. 13, the Miami Herald headlined: "A Massive Plan, Miami City Commission to vote on a multi-billion dollar plan to revitalize downtown Miami." This will include a $914 million tunnel to the Port of Miami. In the same issue, under Keys and State news, the headline was: "Panel: Stop sewage flow into ocean!" It is being suggested by experts that the dumping of 300 million gallons of lightly treated sewage from Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach directly into the ocean each day needs to cease. "This is a policy that we think should be re-thought, "Said Janet Liewellyn, DEP's director of water resource management. (You Think?)

Meanwhile these mega-county's southern neighbor Monroe [is] struggling with a $300 million-plus funding mandate to hook up to a central sewer system by 2010 and produce as a by-product water pure enough to drink. Unlike our neighbors to the north, we currently have no direct sewage outfalls. The Miami-Dade water and sewer department deputy director Doug Yoder immediately went on the offensive stating that, "it would raise the average water/sewer bill in Miami-Dade from $35 to $70 dollars a month." Well boo-hoo-hoo for you, Doug. Keys residents will never see a $70 a month average water/sewer bill.

Is it just me or does it seem strange to anyone else that the Florida Keys residents are having to bear the burden of Advanced Wastewater Treatment (AWT) while in the next 24 hours every toilet and sink and drain connected to the people and business in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties is dumped into the ocean. To add insult to injury, Alan Garcia of Broward County's Waste Water division said, "There has been no evidence that eliminating the outflows will result in any improvement of water on the reef. Studies show that only 4 percent of the sewage from the ocean pipe is carried to near shore." Well I certainly feel better, let's see 4 percent times 300 million gallons a day times 365 days in a year, therefore, only 12 million gallons a day returns to near shore. That's only 4,380,000,000 gallons of "lightly" treated (solids removed) sewage-laced water a year returning to grace the coral, shorelines, beaches, reefs, estuaries, etc. of Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and, by the way, Monroe County. Yes, Monroe, by virtue of the counter currents of the Gulf Stream delivering a part of their sewage outfall back to our reefs and marine sanctuary. All the while we continue to try to do the impossible by sewering a long chain of sparsely settled islands with only 80,000 people to share the cost burden. ...

Doesn't anyone else see the irony in this situation? But then again little Monroe County doesn't have the votes. It is warm and fuzzy and politically correct for the state agencies to talk about "saving the Keys," all the while allowing the mass dumping of waste into our ocean waters. Shame on you, you disingenuous, duplicitous spoilers."


3. While the Florida Keys struggles to get funding the United States will pay for a Tijuana, Mexico sewage treatment plant.

Sandra Dibble of the San Diego Union Tribune writes, "It would be the biggest sewage treatment plant the city has seen, and it wouldn't cost Mexico a penny." U.S. taxpayers would fund the treatment facility which is estimated to cost $170,000,000. Private funding would be used to build and operate the plant, but the Government of the United States will "repay" the company in installments over a 20 year period. At that time the sewage plant will be turned over to Mexican Baja, California. The article reports that the Budget office of Congress has estimated the total expence over the twenty year period would be about $600 million.


4. Duck Key Wastewater District - FKAA Update July 2007

The FKAA and Monroe County are cooperatively moving forward to provide wastewater services to the Island of Duck Key. The Island is comprised of approximately 370 Equivalent Dwelling units (EDU’s) and will be incorporated into the Conch Key Wastewater Treatment District which currently serves Conch Key and Hawk’s Cay. Improvements to the existing plant are currently under design and include expansion of the plant to accept the flows from Duck Key as well as an upgrade to Advanced Wastewater Treatment Standards (AWT) as required by the State of Florida.

The design of the Duck Key collection system, which will deliver flow from the Island to the wastewater treatment plant is complete. Once county funding is available the project will be sent out to bid and take approximately 1.5 -2 years to complete.

Customer Connections

Once the plant is ready to accept flows Notices to Connect will be mailed to property owners informing them of the connection requirement. Owners are responsible for providing the infrastructure from their home to the wastewater connection point installed by the FKAA contractor at the property line. The FKAA will sponsor workshops with plumbers and property owners to educate and inform of connection requirements and processes. Look for workshops to be provided in the first quarter of 2009 and connections to occur shortly thereafter.


Monroe County will assess all developed property owners a system development charge to offset the cost of the wastewater system. Vacant Tier Three property owners may be given the option to pay the current assessment at this time and take advantage of the subsidized assessment rate.

Residential properties will be assessed $4,500 per equivalent dwelling unit (EDU). For example a single family residence would be assessed $4,500. A duplex would be assessed 2 x $4,500 ($9,000). Units are assigned as recorded by the Monroe County Property Appraiser.

Non-residential properties will be assessed based on their water consumption history. One EDU equates to water consumption of 5,010 gallons per month. So, for example, if a nonresidential property’s flow was calculated to be 10,020 gallons per month the EDU’s assigned would be calculated to be 2 EDU’s (10,020 ÷ 5,010 = 2 EDU’s). This equates to a $9,000 (2 x $4,500) assessment.

Assessment notices will be mailed by Monroe County at the end of July 2007. Property owners will be given the opportunity to prepay their assessment. Property owners that do not wish to prepay have the option of financing the assessment through the tax roll for a period of 20 years. Interest and administrative costs will be added to assessments financed through the tax roll. The non ad valorem assessments will be incurred on the November 2007 tax bill for those owners who have not prepaid their assessment by the required date.

Assessment Appeals

Property owners who have been assessed more than 1 EDU have the ability to appeal their assessment. Appeals must be received by the date indicated on the Assessment notice and will be processed in accordance with section 38-307.012(3) of the FKAA Rules and Regulations. Should you have any questions regarding the appeals process please contact Julie Cheon at (305) 295-2178.

Owner Costs associated with Central Wastewater

· System Development Charge ($4,500 per EDU)

· Cost of installing lateral

· Wastewater Monthly user charge (begins 30 days after customers are notified of connection requirements)

Associated Utility Improvements and Upgrades

Water Line Improvements

In order to maximize efficiency and gain an economy of scale water line improvements will be completed in conjunction with the wastewater collection system construction. New water lines will be installed throughout the Island of Duck Key to improve service to the residents.

Reclaimed Water

In addition to providing wastewater treatment the plant will also provide reclaimed water to the residences of Duck Key in addition to the Hawk’s Cay facility. Reclaimed is wastewater that is highly treated to the strictest standards of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and can be used for non-potable uses such as irrigation, wash down of cars and boats, and aesthetic purposes such as fountains. By utilizing reclaimed water for such non-potable applications we can save our valuable drinking water.
As a result of grant funding provided by the South Florida Water Management District, Phase 1 of the Duck Key reclaimed water project is currently underway. You may have noticed the distinctive purple pipe and meter boxes in the construction area. Phase one consists of the Center Island Subdivision of Duck Key. Additional phases will be completed as grant funding becomes available.

Once all related reclaimed improvements are completed reclaimed water will be delivered to homeowners through a separate meter. Service can be acquired through signing an agreement with the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority. Rates and procedures are under development and will be made available in the future.

What can reclaimed water do for you?

· Reduce your monthly water bill

· Dispose effluent in an environmentally friendly manner

· Extend the life of drinking water supply resources, postponing the funding of costly

additional potable water infrastructure

· Provide an irrigation supply during drought restrictions

More information on reclaimed water will be made available in the near future.

5. Duck Key Wastewater System Public Meeting - Presentation to Duck Key Property Owners June 19, 2007

In June the FKAA made a presentation to Duck Key residents which covered wastewater, reclaimed water Improvements and schedule, funding and assessments and connection processes.