When Opportunity Knocks

By Jim vonMeier
As you know, I have been slightly opposed to big-pipe projects in favor of expanding the use of septic systems.  It’s not that I am totally against the pipe…hell in some cases they are the best option.  And it’s not because I install systems anymore so it is not like I am going to get paid to upgrade or install those systems…I am doing it because if no one stands up to these projects we will run out of water. 

Everyone knows California has been hurting for years, but Florida is right behind.  Florida, think about that one for a minute; you have most of the state surrounded by water and what was the joke not too long ago, “I’ve got a deal for you on some (swamp) land in Florida.”  Finding land dry enough to build on used to be a tough one because a large part of the state was nothing but wetland.  And if you have ever been to Disneyworld you found out why they sell the cheap rain ponchos…those brief afternoon rain showers are common.  In other words they should be flush with H2O.    

But today they are in a world of hurt because they are running out of water.  Florida has long been a retirement state and in the 1990’s they really ramped-up building projects to house those 78 million baby-boomers that were going to be migrating to live out their lives in the fun and sun.  High-rise condos, gated communities and million dollar houses were going up at record rates. 

But now in many areas lakes are drying up, 300 year old trees are falling over (because the soil is so dry) and houses are starting to sink.  Why…because they developed without thinking.  They paved over so much ground that the rains can not penetrate the soil and replenish the ground water supplies AND to supply the population with drinking water they keep sucking it out of the ground, sending it to a treatment plant then pumping it out to the ocean. 

Opps…I guess we didn’t think this one through 

Of course people are getting a solution offered to them; desalination plants.  At first glance this sounds like a great plan.  I mean they have plenty of ocean water to draw from so where is the problem?  There are several. 

First those plants aren’t cheap to build; you are looking at a huge taxpayer funded price tag.  Then they are extremely expensive to run because salt eats everything so it means you are constantly replacing components.  But you also have the energy needed to run them.  In some cases building nuclear powered desal plants have been suggested.  Nuclear power to get drinking water?  Some have even theorized the oil/coal/gas companies that supply combustibles to the electric companies that supply juice to the desal plants have formed an alliance.  Big business at it’s finest.  

Then you have the environmental damage that starts right at the beginning…those intake pipes are sucking in plankton, fish eggs and the fish larvae that start life in the shallows.  This not only kills the little guys before they can get old enough to catch for fun, plankton are a food source for commercial fish.  Once they are gone it means the guys running those fishing trawlers fetching your shrimp cocktail and main course are forced to go further out to get the goods and that means you are going to be paying more for tonight’s chow. 

But then you have the highly concentrated salt discharge they need to get rid of and that means even more damage to the coastal areas.  And of course who pays for this entire process…we do.  Oh yes, this just keeps getting better and better. 

But California and Florida are just the beginning…at least 35 states are on the list to see major water shortage problems within 5 years.
Now to me it is not about the money; if people are too lazy to do their homework and are willing to allow them selves to get raped so some fat cats can put a few billion dollars into their pockets (because watching the big game on their 60” flat panel TV is more important) they deserve it.  Maybe after their property taxes and water bills start running more than their house payments they will wakeup, no, to me it is about the damage to those coastal areas that I hope to winter in sooner or later. 

Sure I want a good deal on whatever property I buy but I don’t want that dirt cheap price because the area has died out from a 78% tax rate and toxic beaches.

Now here’s a thought, maybe, just maybe we could/should start doing things smarter from this point forward.  I mean rather than building something that breaks something else and forces us to build something to fix that (and on and on) we should force our government leaders to think about us and our future…not them and their rich contributors. 

If we kept homes on properly designed septic systems instead of building more treatment plants we could put billions of gallons of water back in the aquifers everyday.  And the dough they want to spend on those treatment plants could go toward building (cheaper) rainwater diversion projects that would route those flows through a filtering system and into the groundwater supplies. 

Of course if you want to get this going in the right direction you need to take it to the streets…the people that will be paying today for these projects and paying the price tomorrow when they do it wrong.

And that is where I have a plan that could make you a lot of money while protecting our nation’s water future.  There are a few high profile areas of the country that I am starting to get involved with.  In Colorado there are numerous developments that went up in the building boom of the 1990’s that were built without proper septic systems and now are failing.  Currently most of the residents are asking for a treatment facility because they think this will be the answer to their problems. 

California developers are pushing for a treatment plant in celebrity areas so they can stuff in the high dollar, high-rise condos and Olive Garden restaurants.  Forget the fact that California is bankrupt and can not afford a single dollar for a public project, they are so dry they can not afford to lose one more drop of water to the Pacific, but the plant does have a few key supporters.

However each of these areas has a few people that are willing to fight the pipe and what I want to do by is start working with them to organize the remaining homeowners and expose the big-pipe for what it will really do to their future and how septic systems will not only be cheaper but a long-term benefit as well.  Once (and if) we can get enough people onboard we get the plan in motion. 

First off the people need to understand that they can not do nothing…if their system is failing it needs to be repaired.  If it does not meet current septic codes it needs to be brought up to speed.  Once they have a proper and functioning system it needs to be maintained with a maintenance agreement. 

Then we come up with a list of approved systems that can replace the failing and noncompliant systems.  I have already been negotiating with the manufacturers of these systems and they are willing to provide discounts for bulk purchases.  Then contractors will be needed to install them and provide ongoing maintenance (that would be you).

Then I have a secret weapon, his name is Bob Eichinger that owns Green Septic Solutions.  Bob is a financial wizard that can find grant money and low interest loans like a bloodhound going after a cheeseburger.  If it is there he can find it.  He is in high demand from several industries but he likes the septic business and if I can swing it he would be coming in to find that cash for these communities (part of selling this program to the homeowners is there will be financial incentives for them).         

But there are a few catches:

  • The systems and components we use will need to be reliable…we can not have systems that keep breaking down because it will give all system a bad name (and septic systems already have that label, thanks to the competition). 
  • They need to be reasonably priced, but if we are buying dozens/hundreds/thousands of units at a shot only an idiot would try sticking to “suggested list” pricing. 
  • The contractors involved will also need to agree to abide by professional business standards, but if you are getting enough work to keep you busy until you are ready to retire I think you can manage. 

Once we have these steps accomplished we will approach the people in charge at the city or county level with this plan of action and instruct them to insert that pipe where it will look good. 

But this doesn’t mean you have to haul it out to California or Colorado to get in on this gig, New Jersey, New York, Florida, Ohio, Iowa…these projects are being proposed all over the country including where you live and work.  Give me a call; let’s see if we plug the leak in this system. 

And per the article; “The Myth of Sewage Treatment Facilities.”  I had several contractors and city engineers call me and ask permission for reprints to hand out to customers and city councils.  If you haven’t got it yet you may want to contact me again because I broke the laptop I had those names on.  Sorry about that.       

Jim vonMeier performs educational programs directed at homeowners teaching them the health and environmental need for proper septic systems and how to find a certified septic professional to inspect/design/install/maintain their systems.  He has also represented homeowners in their fight against public sewer projects and speaks at contractor programs around the country on the subject of customer service. 

1-763-856-3800  jvonmeier@septicprotector.com        

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