Florida official mocked online after misrepresenting ‘third world’ sewage issue with Haiti picture
A Florida county commissioner was rebuked by constitents online on Tuesday after using a picture of sewage dumping in Haiti to represent something allegedly going on in their area.
“Maybe the issue is somewhat relevant however the picture of some third world countries waste disposal is incredibly misleading,” one resident wrote on Oskaloosa County commission member Trey Goodwin’s public Facebook page. “What’s shown in the photo absolutely does not happen anywhere in FL. So it’s completely miss leading and flat out wrong to scare people into believing in a problem that doesn’t exist.”
Goodwin prompted the discussion when he posted a picture of a truck dumping what appeared to be sewage inside a landfill, writing, “Open-air dumping of raw septic and porta potty sewage? It’s known as “land application” and Okaloosa County is one of the few counties that allows it on a commercial scale. It seems pretty third-world, but it happens right here. I’d like to see us cleanup our act; how about you?”
His post can be seen below:
However, Goodwin quickly conceded that the picture was not taken locally, telling one resident, “They are all privately owned. This is just an example photo for demonstrative purposes. I will try to obtain some local photos.”
“The photo wasn’t the main point of the post,” Goodwin wrote as the discussion surrounding the picture continued. “The discussion was the point. In hind sight, a disclaimer as you suggest could have been inserted, but I had not anticipated the photo confusion.”
The commissioner said he was told by state health officials that “septage fluid land application” was taking place in the county. According to the Florida Department of Health, land application sites are inspected as part of the Onsite Sewage Treatment and Disposal Systems program.
Also, the state Senate Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation issued a brief in 2011 stating that, while the practice was legal, it would be banned after January 2016.
Goodwin’s post came shortly after he objected to a county plan to ask waste removal contractors to also cover commercial waste starting in 2016. Instead, he said, the commission should come to “a more palatable and hybrid solution.”