Plumbing company has new plan to dump human waste near wetlands

RIVERVIEW, Fla. (WFLA)—Chris’s Plumbing has big plans for what was once a small family farm in southeast Hillsborough County.  

The Riverview-based company just applied for permits to dump up to 100,000 gallons of treated human waste into a field each day, and people in the area think that plan stinks.

To expedite the permitting process, the company hired an environmental engineering company to develop a plan in order to address residents’ concerns.

Dale Meryman of Meryman Environmental admits the material being brought into the area is pretty nasty stuff. “The trucks coming in will be offloading the portable toilet material, restaurant grease, septic tank material,” Meryman said.

Their original plan called for the partially treated material to be spread out over the farm field. A new plan calls for the solids to be separated from liquids and then further treated with chlorine before being dumped into three ponds. The solid material will be taken to a county landfill and the liquids will be sprayed over the field.

Mariella Smith lives more than 20 miles away from the farm, but she’s been fighting the plan for months.

Smith maintains the farm is on a wetland that is adjacent to a creek that feeds into the Little Manatee River, the same river that runs behind her home.

“Some of those organisms last in the environment a year. So, they can be held in these ponds and then the day they flow into the river, they can float down the river and make somebody very sick,” said Smith.

Meryman maintains chlorine will kill the organisms that Smith is concerned about.

An odor coming from the farm is another concern. The site is in a remote part of the county, but there are at least three homesteads adjacent to the property.

Meryman says shrubs will be planted around the treatment area and the shrubs and technology will take care of the odor.

Mariella Smith says she’s worried about the long-term impact of the farm on the river.

“It’s precious to all of us, not only all of us who live along the river, but as a county resource, as a state resource,” said Smith.

A public hearing on the issue is now set for Monday, November 20 at 6pm at the County Center Building at 601 E. Kennedy in Tampa.

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