MERRIT ISLAND, Fla. — Tough new restrictions could make it harder for people to install a septic system in Brevard County.
- Environmental experts believe old septic tanks are causing issues for Indian River
- Old tanks are sending harmful nutrients into the river
- Environmental leaders want new tanks to have higher standards
On Tuesday, county commissioners are considering new rules in an effort to help the Indian River Lagoon.
Environmental experts believe septic tanks are one of the big factors behind the ailments plaguing the Indian River.
In addition, that is because many septic systems are old and too close to the lagoon and are sending harmful nutrients from homes right into the water.
A lot has changed over the years for septic systems, according to Keith Wessner and his crew from Harbor Septic LLC.
"You're basically dealing with a mini-septic treatment plant," said Wessner, the owner and operating manager of the company.
Up and down the Space Coast, more attention is being paid to septic tanks. Now the county commission is considering an ordinance that would require new septic systems to reduce the amount of nitrogen released by at least 65 percent.
"It's definitely beneficial to the environment," added Wessner.
With less nitrogen leaking into the ground water and making its way to the lagoon, the hope is the new rule will reduce the number of fish kills seen in the Indian River.
"What they're trying to do is stop new septic tanks from being built near the lagoon unless they are efficient at removing nitrogen," explained John Windsor of the Save Our Indian River Lagoon Citizen Oversight Committee.
Windsor, a retired Florida Tech professor, sits on the committee that oversees where money from a half-cent sales tax is spent on lagoon restoration projects.
The county is using $68 million to remove or upgrade more than 3,700 of the most polluting septic systems on the Space Coast.
The problem is the health department is permitting new septic systems at twice the rate that existing systems can be removed or upgraded.
"We're building new homes with new septic systems, but to the old standards, the 1960s, 1970s standards, and we're adding more septic tanks to Brevard County than we're taking out of the county with this program," said Windsor.
That is where environmental leaders hope this new ordinance will help, forcing new septic tanks to be built to higher standards.
It means more work for Wessner and his company.
"They come at an increased cost and increased maintenance to them but that's part of everyone sort of doing their part to revive the lagoon," he said.
The county Commission will consider the ordinance at 5:30 p.m. in Viera.