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St. Johns Water Management District

A cooperative funding application was issued to convert septic systems within the Wekiva Springs Priority Area – 1. This formal application for funding states

Section B-1

“Springs Protection: septic tank replacement in subdivisions adjacent to and within the 5 year capture zone of Wekiva Springs would reduce significantly the nutrient contribution to the Wekiva springshed from leachate.”

“Central Florida Water: septic system improvements would significantly reduce the contribution of nutrients and other compounds affecting the Floridian aquifer via seepage.”

Section C-8

“Orange County Utilities is requesting a cost-share of $4,987,500. Total estimated project cost: $6,650,000.”

Attachment 1 provided as supplemental information to this funding application bases the need for spending this money and the assurances of environmental impact on only one Orange County home site inspection tested as part of the MACTEC Report.

The interesting component of this funding application is that Orange County and the Orlando Utilities Commission have stated that the placement of only 380 homes onto sewers will make a “Significant” reduction in nitrates in the Wekiva Watershed. This is Yet, virtually all studies show that the contributions of all septic systems in the Wekiva Watershed (55,000 on septic systems) are contributing only 6 to 12% of all nitrates.

This might bring one to question whether the pressure being placed on homeowners is really all about polluting the Wekiva Watershed. This works out to $17,500 per home and the benefit is 17 to 22 pounds less nitrogen every year per home. Applying this logic to the State of Florida’s 2.5 million septic systems, that places the low end estimate at least 43 billion dollars since sewers are the lowest cost solution that our State has investigated. Alternate septic system designs under study today are all higher in costs. FYI: Three bags of fertilizer every year or two average trees are an equivalent mitigation to the nitrate contributions of a septic system.

Florida Department of On-site Sewage

A report entitled AN ASSESSMENT OF NITROGEN CONTRIBUTION FROM ONSITE WASTEWATER TREATMENT SYSTEMS (OWTS) IN THE WEKIVA STUDY AREA OF CENTRAL FLORIDA was conducted in 2007. The report concluded that:

“In order to determine the most cost-effective solution to reduce the impact of nitrogen, given that it is a cumulative impact, there has to be a mechanism to prioritize and categorize. One method of categorization would be to look at nitrogen that is entering the environment. This would result in fertilizers being the main contributor, next would come atmospheric deposition, and then wastewater. The focus could also be on the different land uses from which the nitrogen originates. The largest human influenced land use in the WSA is residential followed by agricultural, so addressing nitrogen from residential and agricultural land uses would be most important. “

This summary basically places the nitrogen contributions of septic systems called “On-site Waste Treatment Systems” as one of the lowest contributors at 6 to 12 percent of total nitrogen contribution. Yet, the this State agency has placed the replacement of properly permitted and functioning septic systems as a top agency priority. Source: FDP

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