Governor pushing $100M for matching septic projects to improve water quality
Septic tank leakage is one of the top causes of damaging nutrients flowing to Florida's ailing waterways, but the state is looking to cut down on that pollution through a $100 million program that's part of Gov. Ron DeSantis' proposed budget.
Florida has become increasingly known in recent years for its blue-green algae blooms, which are fed in part by leaky or inadequate septic systems.
While farms and urbanized areas contribute more nutrients to inland and coastal waterways, septic tanks are a chunk of the problem as well. Experts say converting to city sewage systems will help.
"It’s a big issue in Charlotte (County)," said Jennifer Hecker, director of the Coastal and Heartland National Estuary Partnership, which includes Estero Bay. "They identified a lot of hot spots that are polluting the harbor and we’re trying to help reinforce the science that underscores why that investment is needed."
Hecker said water quality has been polling as the top issue in her community, and that, for the most part, people understand the need to convert to city sewage.
But the conversion comes at a cost, tens of thousands of dollars in most cases.
This type of funding could be used to offset costs for homeowners, she said.
"In some cases making it too costly, which is why we need cost-share programs," Hecker said. "It’s necessary but the bottom line is this is costing some homeowners $30,000. And in more rural areas it can be even more burdensome."