Orange County Awarded Millions for Septic Conversion and Upgrades
Approximately $41 million will go towards sewer conversion projects in Wekiwa Springs and Pine Hills
Orange County, FL – Late last week, the state of Florida announced their recommendation for Orange County to be the recipient of a $41 million wastewater treatment grant.
The funds are part of a statewide program established by the Clean Waterways Act, which will provide more than $114 million to improve water quality and protect Florida’s natural water resources.
The grant can be used to upgrade traditional septic systems to include nutrient removal technology, provide advanced wastewater treatment, or convert septic tanks to central sewer. In Orange County, the funds will predominately help convert septic tanks in Wekiwa Springs and Pine Hills, which are within the Springs Priority Focus Area.
“We welcome these monies to help Orange County preserve natural water resources like Wekiwa Springs,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings. “It is crucial to remove septic tanks to improve the health of the springs and keep them as pollution-free as possible.”
Florida’s natural water resources, like Central Florida’s Wekiwa Springs, are sensitive to human activity. High concentrations of nitrates – attributed, in part, to fertilizer runoff and septic tanks used by residential properties – are negatively impacting the water quality and ecosystem of the springs.
“I’m ecstatic to see such dedication to protecting our natural resources,” Ed Torres, Director of Orange County Utilities said. “I can confidently say that Orange County Utilities is fully committed to providing sustainable services to our customers. My staff and I look forward to expanding our conversion program and continuing our efforts to protect our region’s waterways.”
Septic tanks have been identified as the source of 29 percent of the nitrates in the springs. Retrofitting existing neighborhood septic systems to sewer is a way to aid the ailing springs by transmitting wastewater to an advanced treatment facility.
“On behalf of the fourteen neighborhoods 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. We had only expected to proceed with one neighborhood per year,” District 2 Commissioner, Christine Moore said. “With the $36 million, we are now able to build sewers in fourteen neighborhoods, or 1,200 homes.”
Out of the total $114 million awarded, the Indian River Lagoon and Orange County’s septic conversion project receive a large majority of the funds. The Indian River Lagoon is granted more than $53 million for water quality efforts and Orange County is awarded $41 million.