DeFuniak Springs City Council hears details on DEP Consent Order [PREMIUM]

CLIFF L. KNAUER addressed the DFS City Council at its Aug. 29 special meeting.


A special meeting of the DeFuniak City Council was held on Aug. 29, 2022, at DeFuniak Springs City Hall. 

The first item on the agenda was the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Consent Order. The estimated price of the INI (Infiltration and Inflow) order would be $44,750. The city is asking for 10 years instead of the six years specified by the DEP. The biggest question, according to Robert Thompson, City Manager, is whether the city must complete everything in the order by the time specified, or just the main points. 

The $44,750 would cover just the testing to determine the problems and strategy needed to repair everything. Mayor Pro-Tempore Todd Bierbaum raised concerns as to what the total cost would be to make all the repairs. That price is not yet known. 

Cliff L. Knauer, P.E., CFM, of Dewberry Engineering, explained: “there are three parts to the plan. First, identifying the known issues, developing a scope for a study, possibly costing $300,000 to $400,000. The study is smoke testing, using cameras for all the lines known to be clay, including recommendations and corrective action. The $44,750 identifies all the areas in the city that need testing, put together a plan for that testing, had about 5,000 hours set up in camera work, to have an idea of the quantity of infiltration they’re dealing with. The plan they provide would be shared with the city and the Florida DEP. Once it was approved by the DEP you would move to the next step which is the study. My guess is it may cost the city $300,000 to $400,000 based on similar systems. It could be less if the area is confined to the Lakeyard. The study would take typically six to eight months.  “When the study is completed, they (DEP) would provide a list of recommendations. The list of recommendations is going to be everything from sewer cleanouts that need to be repaired, to man-hole tops that need to be repaired, lines that need to have liners installed, areas that need complete replacement. We don’t know the extent of the INI issue. One of the main causes of infiltration is ground water entering into the sewer system from cracked sewer pipes. If a sewer pipe is below the groundwater table, then groundwater is coming into that sewer pipe 24/7. The other main cause is storm water entering the system by man-hole tops in the bottom of the ditches. It’s also cleanouts, people are pretty crafty about unscrewing the top on their cleanout to drain their yard, found that by smoke testing.” 

Council member Anthony Vallee asked how it works with the DEP. 

Knauer responded, “Typically DEP will take your schedule that you submit as part of your consent order, with almost every item there’s a schedule associated with it. And so they will take all of your schedules together and make a spreadsheet and that’s what your kind of bound by.” He said based on the call this morning with the DEP that they sounded like they would take Mr. [Robert] Thompson’s letter of response into consideration, that the city is fiscally constrained. The study could also take from six to eight months to complete. 

Bierbaum said there were some grammatical errors in the letter that needed to be corrected before it is sent. 

Clay Adkinson, City Attorney, said the DEP could possibly shut down the town if their plan is not met. The city has less than 48 hours to return their response to the state. 

Two other items were also on the agenda for the special meeting. They will be covered in the next edition of the Herald – Breeze.