ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — The state of Florida is allocating $41 million for septic-to-sewer conversions in the areas of Pine Hills and Wekiva Springs as part of a multiyear project to improve waterways.
What You Need To Know
- The Pine Hills and Wekiva areas will receive $41 million from the state
- The funding is to aid conversions from septic systems to sewers
- Septic leaks make up 29% of nitrates in springs, Orange County Utilities says
- Lake, Orange and Seminole counties have more than 50,000 septic systems
According to Orange County Utilities, septic waste leaks into the water and makes up 29% of nitrates in the springs, contributing to algae blooms.
For some homeowners who live nearby, like Gale Hoover Richmond, making the switch is about preservation for future generations.
“I’d like the Wekiva River to go back to what it was,” she said. “And with that, you have the wildlife."
Neighborhood makes septic-to-sewer conversion
In 2019, 32 of the 44 homes in Richmond's neighborhood voted to move forward with septic-to-sewer conversion. Richmond was one of the "yes" votes, and as secretary of her community's homeowners association, the notion meant more than just a boost in home values.
“I really care about the environment,” Richmond said. “And so do a lot of other people. We need to get rid of these septic tanks that are causing problems and polluting the water."
Flipping the switch to sewer takes time. Neighborhood residents have been told their conversion might be complete by 2024.
But, it's worth the wait and every penny they'll have to pay, Richmond said.
“It’s important, it’s important to the future generations,” she explained. “If we don’t get this cleaned up and do the right thing, there’s not going to be anything left for anybody."
With money from the state, homeowners in that neighborhood will be paying about $6,000 for conversion instead upward of $50,000.
According to Orange County Utilities, the funding means they can do more neighborhoods more quickly. There are more than 50,000 septic systems in Lake, Orange and Seminole counties.
“On behalf of the fourteen neighborhoods in the Wekiwa Alliance I led in 2019 to participate in and advocate together for grant funding for septic-to-sewer, we are grateful for the expedited conversion funding," District 2 Commissioner Christien Moore said. "We had only expected to proceed with one neighborhood per year. With the $41 million, we are now able to build sewers in fourteen neighborhoods, and expand to Pine Hills."