Water Quality Task Force

First formed in 2010 to address the controversial issue of water/sewer, the South Venice Beach Water Quality Task Force today is dedicated to the improvement and preservation of our waterways. With a large cadre of volunteers, we get ‘down in the mud’ cleaning and planting. To see what we’ve accomplished so far, you can walk along the creek on Siesta Drive between Baffin Drive Road and Arrowhead.

Workdays are announced in the South Venice Beach Wave and by email. If you would like to be added to the notification list for this project or other community clean up and beautification projects,  email Laraine Jansen at larainejansen777@gmail.com.

READ ON for more information about the Task Force:

Sarasota County does water quality testing in South Venice on a regular schedule. This is the most recent report. The South Venice Civic Association initiated this testing with the county, and it just one of the ways the SVCA is helping make South Venice a beautiful and wonderful place to live.

SVCA Water Quality Summary


This letter was mailed to each commissioner, answers are following the letter:

February 15, 2009

Nora Patterson

Sarasota County Commissioner

Re: Development of a Preliminary Design Report for the South County Septic System Replacement Program

Dear Commissioner Patterson:

On behalf of the South Venice Civic Association Board of Directors, it is with disappointment but conviction that this letter is submitted.  Your candid discussion regarding the central water and sewer program with our general membership on January 18, 2010 was well received and generally successful in squelching many of the rumors regarding this matter.  We have done our best to reflect the key points in our monthly newsletter, not the least of which was the confirmation that the Board of County Commissioners voted last year to wait for 3 years.

After reviewing the County’s Request for Professional Services (RPS) for the above referenced matter, the SVCA board is concerned that it is not consistent with the rational approach that was so well articulated on January 18, 2010.  As some on the SVCA board recall, you indicated such potential concerns in mentioning this RPS at the meeting.  Below are some excerpts that clearly do not reflect the openness: (1) to get the science right; (2) to better define and articulate the problem; (3) to consider other cost-effective and innovative technologies; and (4) to evaluate the scale of the problem to possibly reduce the scale and subsequent allocation of limited funds, etc.

“The primary work involves the delivery of central sewer service to residential customers.”

“Sarasota County is requesting proposals from qualified professional engineers to develop a Preliminary Design Report (PDR) defining central wastewater collection systems in various Wastewater Project Improvement Areas in the unincorporated area of the county in South Venice.”

“The work involves, but is not limited to; preliminary engineering design, recommendations on phasing, prioritization of the areas to be sewered, identification of transmission main routing and the needed offsite infrastructure from the study area to the Venice Gardens Wastewater Reclamation Facility.”

“… focus on the demographics of the area, net gain/benefit that a system of improvements can bring to the Lemon Bay watershed …”

“The added benefits anticipated from this project include improving localized drainage and the reducing nutrient and pollutant loading in the Lemon Bay and the Alligator Creek basin.”

“The PDR should identify collection methods, consisting of vacuum sewers, low-pressure sewers, and/or gravity sewers, phasing and implementation details along with cost estimates, life cycle analysis, recommendations for plan implementation, developing density vs. potential density once central water and sewer is made available, central water service extensions, easements/right-of-way delineations, land surveying only to the point of completing the PRD, drainage, roadwork identification of possible vacuum and lift station sites, road crossings in conjunction with other County and State road improvement projects, optional treatment facility locations and all other related work necessary of complete preliminary design of each phase.”

“Special emphasis will be paid to responders who have extensive knowledge and experience in vacuum sewer system design and installation.”

I think we can agree that this RPS reads like an extremely expensive, presumptive, and single-focused objective, engineering study.  Any County public meetings on this RPS will seem like when a developer holds a public meeting to ask for community input for a plan that is essentially established.

The SVCA has endeavored to bring residents, pro and con, for central water and sewer together to find common ground.   This common ground has manifested itself as a shared concern to understand the specific need for central water and sewer as well as investigating options to reduce any costs for addressing water quality problems, if and when defined.  In addition, there is an emerging shared interest in finding alternative technologies as well as an increasing sense of ownership to address water quality problems, if and when defined.

It is our hope that our County shares these objectives and work with our community to define and if needed, develop a plan that doesn’t already presume a problem and single-minded solution.   Meanwhile, there may be more innovative and cost-effective solutions that are also in better keeping with the sustainability values of Sarasota.  Therefore, it is the recommendation of the SVCA board of directors that the Board of County Commissioners immediately withdraw this RPS and work with our community (SVCA, Water and Sewer Task Force) to develop a collaborative approach consistent with the spirit of your rational and well-received presentation on January 18, 2010.


Laraine Jansen, President

South Venice Civic Association

cc: Sarasota County Board of County Commissioners, SVCA Board of Directors

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