PROJECT FOR THE FUTURE
THE PROBLEM: Citrus County Septic Tank Disposal.
OUR OPINION: Sewer conversion cannot come quickly enough.
The Citrus Board of County Commission – commonly known as BOCC – pointed the i’s and crossed the t’s by holding two public hearings to discuss the phase-out of septic tanks in Old Homosassa Springs. At the end of the hearings, the departmental commission unanimously approved the submission of the plan to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
The county has been smart to remove the Old Homosassa Springs area first from the five areas planned for the septic tank to sewer. The homeowners there know there is a problem with the flow from their septic tanks into the ground, which eventually seeps into the river. Other regions are more resistant to change or do not recognize that there is an environmental problem. So we indeed applaud the county for moving forward with this ten year old problem of septic systems gurgling nutrients like phosphates and nitrates into the Homosassa River.
We have written about this issue several times in the past. The county septic-sewer phase for Old Homosassa Springs was originally 10 distinct geographic sections in the Homosassa River area. The first phase, Garcia Point, is almost complete but the pandemic brought the rest of the projects to an abrupt end. Now, however, things are moving and the problem is that the rock from the septic tank to the sewer has started to move down the slope picking up speed at the rate of three phases in some form of development. And that, of course, is good for the environment, but there is a catch. Money.
This forward movement is a challenge due to the need for funding to pay for the local assessment portion of the project costs. These are costs that the county has traditionally dealt with with utility reserves. But with other county projects underway besides the Old Homosassa sewer project, the drain on county funds would be critical. A workaround was identified in the form of a loan request from the State Revenue Fund (SRF). This application only covers the Old Homosassa sewer septic tank project. But it’s a good solution to a serious, if not critical, environmental problem that needs to be addressed quickly – or as quickly as the government allows.
We commend the county, including the Water Resources Department, for finding this solution. SRF requests are sent in cycles. Several of them are considered in a cycle for loan financing, other requests are considered downstream. The head of the water resources department, Ken Cheek, believes the SRF will finance the project with a loan, although there is some uncertainty over the exact timing. We also keep our fingers crossed for funding found thanks to the new national infrastructure bill brought to Congress by the Biden administration. Otherwise, it would be a godsend, a government delight.
Since the owners are on board for the transition to a sewage system, let’s hope our local and state government – all regional and state councils, departments and the state legislature, hop aboard this train of goods needed to promote a positive environmental need in the form of converting septic tanks to sewers in the Old Homosassa Springs area.