Letter to the Editor: Broken pipes, broken rates

Article Highlights

  • Some of you may remember a presentation back during the last election called “The Dirty Little Secret” wherein I pointed out that old sewer pipes on Marco Island were leaking.
  • So now the question becomes who is going to pay to rehabilitate all these old leaky pipes?
  • Base rates should be base rates whether you live in a single family home, or penthouse condo.

In the recent article in the Eagle titled “Utility employee writes on Marco’s ‘proactive sewer’ project”, Mr. Bradshaw confirmed that the old vitrified clay pipes that comprise some 40 percent of the old Marco Island sewer system are in sad shape and are leaking.

Some of you may remember a presentation back during the last election called “The Dirty Little Secret” wherein I pointed out that old sewer pipes on Marco Island were leaking. Not only did I say they were leaking, but I quantified those leaks at 170,000 gallons per day. This statement was met with vehement denials from several community leaders, not to mention the usual voodoo numbers from the utility.

The Dirty Little Secret Power Point Presentation and a paper showing just how small a hole can produce a 170,000 gallon per day leak can be viewed on the Marco Island Blog at http://marcoislandblog.blogspot.com/.

Now that leaking pipes can potentially produce more increases for the already bloated rates of the Marco Island Utilities, this story comes out based on the review of Closed Circuit Television, CCTV, records. Those CCTV records existed back in 2007, but we were never provided that information, as it would have confirmed “The Dirty Little Secret.”

So now the question becomes who is going to pay to rehabilitate all these old leaky pipes? If you ask the Utility they will tell you that existing users have been paying rates for years to replace and repair the infrastructure when it wears out. That is a lie. The repair and replacement fund if it ever existed went with Florida Water when they sold the system to Marco.

Since Marco bought the system they were supposed to build a repair and replacement fund as part of the covenants in the original bonds, but they are spending that money as fast as they collect it. There is no pot of money built up by existing, new, or any other users to replace these pipes.

To add insult to injury, there are still nearly 9,000 utility customers who’s sewer base rate is based on master meter rates rather than individual base rates. These friends and neighbors, have never paid anything near a fair base sewer rate, even though most of them have been on the system since it’s inception.

In fact, the Collier Boulevard project and of course the STRP have subsidized these freeloaders by giving them new lines and a new plant to replace the one they wore out. Yes I am talking about our friends and neighbors in master metered condos.

Back in 2005 the City Council did adjust the water base rate for master metered condos to 75 percent of the base rate the rest of us have to pay. The 25 percent reduction was justified by saying the master meters are easier to read so the Utility saves money and that savings should be passed on to the users.

Even though single meter rates, (single family homes, individually metered condos, most commercial establishments), are subject to constant rate increases, the master meter users still plug along paying 20 percent of what everyone else pays. It is high time to correct this outrageous inequity that places one group of Islanders subsidizing another.

Base rates should be base rates whether you live in a single family home, or penthouse condo. Also there is little to justify a 25 percent discount for master meter accounts, so that should be changed to equity with the single meter rates.

Finally, sewer base rates equal to single meter accounts must be assessed to these master metered accounts. The days of single family and individually metered condos subsidizing 9,000 others must end and everyone should pay their fair share. Furthermore, the Utility Rate Committee should look into a utility rate room charge for the hotels.

It is time to end the inequity; fix the rates, and there will be plenty of money to fix the pipes.

Butch Neylon

Marco Island

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Comments » 13

jwputnam writes:

The truth shall set you free:


Personally, I do not understand why the "old users" are not paying an assessment for their new pipes just as I am paying for mine. Why should they get their installation for free....or rather at my expense? Yes they paid for their service over the years, but I paid for my septic system and the maintenance. Which one cost more? Tell me please.

My friends are condo dwellers...many of them. I love them. I do, but fair is fair. There is no free lunch. Why would they ask me to pay for their problem, especially when I am being forcefully made to pay to destroy my truly better system at MY expense.

Think about it. Really think about it.

castaway writes:

Welcome back Butch, problem is just like the last time and its a shame, no one is listening.

jwputnam writes:

It appears as if you are, now doesn't it.

Nice new disguise Ray. I see where your son got his training.

castaway writes:

John, who is this fella Ray that seems to concern you so much.

loscabos writes:

Condo owners continue to pay less for a gallon of water than the single family home residents pay. Those who follow island politics knows this happened in order to get the votes needed to win the last election. Do the right thing Misters Trotter, Recker, Gibson and Waldack, Fix this dishonest rate difference. Let all who use water on this island pay the same per gallon. No excuses. Order the City manager to fix it so each residence pays the same per gallon. If he can't do it get rid of him and get someone who can.

jwputnam writes:


Well said...and accurate. I do believe that the people are awakening.

Thank you sir.

Fossil writes:

rolomokat, either you did not hear Mr Nylon's presentation or you were one of those who felt it should never see the light of day. Well, now an employee of the city has confirmed what Mr. Neylon revealed. Butch Neylon really does know what he is talking about. Butch Neylon did let us know exactly what was going on with the old pipes during his presentation on the subject. Now that the city admits there is documentation verifying Mr. Neylon's claims, you say he doesn't know what he is talking about? Too bad the press did not perform it's duty and investigate the facts, or at least demand that City Officials give them a written preliminary assessment of the study they were doing at the time of Mr. Neylon's revelations. If this newspaper had done it's job, the entire City would have new leadership today and there would be no discussion of additional assessments or higher taxes.

lauralbi1 writes:

There is no "Dirty Little Secret", Butch, that is just one reason why you lost the election, along with your slate. Actually, the "leakage" of concern with our sewer system, where they may find leaks, is infiltration, not outgoing leakage. Stormwater getting into the system, not sewage leaking out. Maybe a little more research on your part would help you arrive at some truths instead of quoting figures that come from California sewer systems.
The majority of voters on the Island are smarter than you think and will not be swayed by McCarthy like tactics. I would have thought you saw that from the results of the last election. Mr. Hall, Mr. Honicker and others should learn their lesson.
Oh, and please, please continue to associate yourself with Mr. McMullan.
Ed Issler

ButchNeylon writes:

You are only half right when you stated that inflow and infiltration are the problem not sewage leaking out of the system. If you read Mr. Bradshaws article you will see that he states there is a danger of the leaking pipes polluting our groundwater.

Take into account that over 40% of the sewer piping is above the water table and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that sewage leaks out of the system every day.

Now if you look at http://www.marcoislandblog.blogspot.com/ you will see that in order for the 170,000 gallons that I stated were leaking, from the system, to take place you need only have a hole or several holes adding up to a mere 16 square inches, or a 4" X 4" hole.

Add to that the fact that most leaking from sewer systems comes from the pipes that connect the users to the system, which are all above the water table, and you will see that there is no doubt that the Marco Island Sewer System is causing ground water pollution on the Island.

So you see Ed, there are holes in the system below the water table which let water into the system, "Infiltration", and holes above the water table which let sewage out, "Exfiltration". It's not a real hard concept for most to understand.


Butch Neylon

Fossil writes:

Mr. Issler, you are trying to tell us the color white is black? I will give you credit for confirming that storm water is leaking into the system. However what is more damaging to the treatment plant is the fact that sea water is also entering the system. This happens each time the tide is high or whenever the island gets high water from a storm (we already know our storm drains are inadequate). Why does this happen? Because the high water causes pressure forcing the sea water into the manholes and the saturated sand allows the sea water to have a free run to the breaks in our pipes. As for the rest of your claims, I will take the time to explain this in the simplist possible terms becuase you mistakenly believe you are smarter then Mr. Neylon. If the pipe has a crack, is broken from pressure, digging, root developemnt or seperated from an adjoining pipe it will leak or leach the material it was designed to contain. Common sense (and the law of gravity) tells us that when fluids flow downhill they will take the path of least resistance. We have a gravity system on Marco. The material you flush from your house flows downhill to the nearest lift station. If the pipe has been compromised in some way, your excrement will settle in that compromised portion of the pipe and pollute the surrounding soil. As more water comes washing down the pipe, your excrement will slowly but surely find the lowest point (the break) in that pipe, accumulate and seap into the soil and find it's way into our water table. Sorry to be so discriptive but your contribution above indicates I have to make the extra effort in order to convince you that your uninformed and not very well thought out statements are damaging our enviornment.

jwputnam writes:

in response to rolomokat:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)


Surely you jest. Are you aware of Mr. Neylon's background? I would guess not, but suffice it to say that his knowledge of sewage systems and treatments plants far exceeds that of anyone on Marco. Do a little research sir.

happy6 writes:

why does anyone keep responding to the village idiot issler....ignore the fool and eventually he'll go away...like the last election he won't turn loose of. he needs to go sit with arceri, monte and wal-duck and tell each other what intellects they are.

playballonK writes:

Shadow, copy your above post and paste it to every topic on this site.
Its simply beautiful.

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