Plumbing company dumps plan to spread human waste on farm

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Chris’s Plumbing of Riverview has withdrawn a permit application to spread human waste and restaurant grease on a farm in southeast Hillsborough County.

The plan initially called for the company to spread up to 50,000 gallons a day of human waste from septic tanks and portable toilets on a farm.

Environmental activists complained about the plan because it’s adjacent to a creek that eventually flows into the Little Manatee River.

Chris’s Plumbing then hired an environmental engineer to develop a new plan to separate solids from liquids, add chemicals and then spread the treated liquid over the property. The solids left over from the process would then have been taken to a landfill.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp was opposed to the plan from the start.

“This was probably the worst case in Hillsborough County that anybody could ever choose to put this kind of practice, but I don’t think in the past there has been as much attention,” said Kemp.

Since the permit application was first filed, the county has changed the rules that would have allowed this form of waste treatment.

Kemp hopes the new rules will protect the wetlands and waterways in the area.

“I am very hopeful that this will never come to be that we will never have effluent spraying in this area and I think we are just going to have to keep moving forward with the process and working on this,” said Kemp.

Chris’s Plumbing released the following statement after withdrawing the permit:

Despite making many changes to bring the project above and beyond any regulatory and environmental requirements, it has become clear that more time is needed to address questions about the project.”

“It’s another victory, a real victory for grassroots, citizen activism. Chris’s plumbing would be dumping raw sewage, tons of raw sewage on that site right now, every day and it would be floating past here every time it rained or flooded,” said Mariella Smith, an environmental activist who’s been fighting Chris’s Plumbing on this plan for months.  She also lives on the Little Manatee River.

The company has not announced if they will apply for a new permit, or scrap this plan completely for the future.

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