Petition: No FGUA septic system | Sumter Sun Times

By Brenda Locklear

The petition is out and hundreds of Lake Panasoffkee residents have signed – no FGUA treatment plant. Residents are also voicing their opposition at Sumter County Commission meetings.

In recent years, residents have hosted a community meeting — by residents, for residents. Topics have ranged from crime and law enforcement support to the cost of fire protection. But the most recent meetings have drawn the largest crowds… and fierce opposition. The vast majority of residents who attended voiced opposition to a public sewer system proposed for the community through the Florida Government Utilities Authority (FGUA) ​​sewer system. The county commissioned the FGUA to conduct a study of utilities in the Panasoffkee area.

Charles Pennington, a resident of Lake Panasoffkee, along with several other community members, are leading the event, coordinating meetings and gathering information. Some of the residents spoke at a previous meeting, but at the July 9 meeting, about 40 Lake Panasoffkee residents attended the meeting, and several spoke and voiced their opposition.

Residents presented everything from information about the condition of the lake and information from government agencies to concerns about the cost to residents who may not be able to afford the system or a new electric bill.

A petition against the public sewer system is currently underway and Pennington said the goal is to get 2,000 signatures.

He said the goal of the group and the petition is to “… stop it and see if we can find another solution.” They are also urging Lake Panasoffkee residents to attend Sumter County Commission meetings to show how many people are against the system.

Pennington said the goal is to stop FGUA.

“There are other options we can use,” he said.

Those who do speak out point out that their opposition to FGUA is due in part to concerns about customer service and the proposed gravity system. Some of the residents have given some poor reviews of the service. Residents are also concerned that the agency could then control residents' water system and raise water rates.

During the last community meeting, one of the residents shared his background and mentioned that he had worked in crisis response for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at various locations and had seen poor results with gravity systems.

Pennington said there are also concerns that building a public sewer system could make the community too attractive to developers.

He wants to know why the county has not “…investigated the company itself and checked out the other counties to see what kind of service they provide to their customers.”

The actual individual costs for each property owner have not yet been confirmed and those figures will not be known until they see what external funding is available, FGUA said.

According to FGUA consultant Steve Spratt, they must submit cost estimates to apply for state and federal funds. The budgeted costs include the cost of pipes, plant design, pumping stations, etc., and they try to fund all aspects of the system – from the plant to the piping to actually connecting customers – through outside funding. To determine the final cost, once the amount of outside funding available is known, they divide the total remaining dollar amount by the number of parcels to be served to determine the cost per parcel.

Spratt said they have been successful in obtaining outside funding in the past, noting that the Lake Panasoffkee area would likely be classified as “disadvantaged and small,” which would normally qualify for more funding. He said that because of the state agency's funding cycle, August is the target date to determine how much money might be available.

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