Florida woman living off the grid forced to connect to city utilities

A judge ruled that it's illegal to disconnect from the city's water system

Topics: Florida, renewable energy, Sewage, Off the grid, electrical grid, , ,

Robin Speronis had her Cape Coral house set up for entirely off-the-grid living: solar panels provided her electricity, and she substitutes rain for running water. And last week, a Florida court declared her self-sustaining lifestyle illegal.

Special Magistrate Harold S. Eskin ruled Thursday that Speronis is allowed to generate her own electricity, but must hook her home up to the city’s water system — even if they can’t require her to use it.

Speronis had been living off the grid for nearly two years, but drew the ire of state officials last November when she appeared on a local news station boasting of her utility-free lifestyle. That same day, a code enforcement officer attempted to evict her.

Thursday’s ruling found Speronis not guilty of refusing to use the sewer and of using solar energy, but is holding her accountable for refusing to use an approved water system. Reasoning that she had been using the city’s wastewater system without paying for it, Eskin had the city cap her sewer until she agrees to connect.

While she fights the ruling, Speronis’ plan is to dispose of her waste “as dog owners do for their pets” and to use wastewater for her garden.

“I know how to live off the grid completely and in a sanitary way,” she told the News-Press. “That’s what seven months in living in the woods taught me. I do have an alternative toilet from my days of living in the woods.”

Lindsay Abrams
Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

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