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May Water News

Let’s Make Vero Beach Septic System Free

The Indian River Lagoon has been declared impaired, with water quality no longer meeting recreational standards for fishing and swimming. Septic systems are a primary source of pollution draining into the lagoon.

About seven years ago, Vero Beach installed STEP hybrid sewer lines throughout the City.  So far about 600 homes have been connected. However, 900 additional homes remain on septic systems within the city limits.  On the mainland, there are many homes with median household incomes less than $60,000. The typical cost of the connection is $16,000-$17,000. Without financial assistance, sewer connection for many homeowners will be impossible.

In a groundbreaking initiative developed and led by the Clean Water Coalition (CWC), a pilot program has been launched to connect 25 to 30 homes at a significantly lower cost. Instead of paying $16,000 the typical homeowner will pay about $5,500 spread over 10 years with no interest payments – about $550 a year. CWC’s financial partners in this program are the Indian River Land Trust and the Community Foundation of Indian River County. Together the 3 not-for-profits have raised $225,000.

In addition, the Economic Opportunities Council of Indian River County will provide necessary support to homeowners, explaining the program, guiding them through the application process and verifing income qualification requirements. A $50,000 household income for a family of four is required to qualify. Proof of homestead exemption ensures that assistance goes to owner-occupied properties. The City of Vero Beach is also providing incentives with free financing and credits for the connection fees.

The CWC will incur $8,000 in project support costs in addition to their direct financial contribution. Any donation toward this expense would be appreciated.

Following a successful pilot program, the CWC hopes to raise additional funds (public and private) to connect the remaining 170 homes needing financial assistance.


The More You Know

Did you know that 51% of all wastewater in Indian River County is treated by septic systems? Learn more here.


Good News:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has informed Florida's state environment officials that the state's water quality standards for streams and wetlands are not sufficient to protect human health. This determination allows the EPA to establish surface water quality standards for Florida if the state fails to take action. The EPA asserts that the current health criteria for surface waters are inadequate to protect the population from pollution, and that new criteria need to be formulated for 37 pollutants for which the state currently has no standards, including benzene and toluene. Additionally, the agency stated that Florida should enhance existing standards for 40 other pollutants, such as fluorene, chloroform, beryllium, and antimony. Read more here.


Spotlight on the FWC:

On April 26 and 27 the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) organized a cleanup event at the Sebastian Inlet State Park. Volunteers from the Clean Water Coalition joined with the FWC, Indian River County Sheriff’s Department Marine unit, Melbourne Beach Fire Department, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Lake County Sherriff’s Department, Orange County Sherriff’s Department and the Sebastian Inlet State Park to clean up trash from the shoreline and bottom of the inlet. Hundreds of pounds of fishing weights, cast nets, fishing line, lures, and fishing poles that got away from their anglers were collected.

Around 50 divers braved the inlets ripping current, rough waters and windy conditions on Wednesday and Thursday focusing on the north jetty inside of the inlet. Wednesdays dive was cut short due to the rough conditions and poor visibility. Thursday’s divers saw smoother seas and better visibility allowing them to collect more trash from the inlet and retrieve metal grates that were washed into the inlet during Hurricane Nicole last year.

Congratulations are warranted to FWC Officer Joshua Beck who organized the Inlet cleanup. Officer Beck was unable to attend the cleanup as his wife went into labor and delivered their first child early Wednesday morning. The FWC has plans to return next year and have another Sebastian Inlet Clean Up event.


Indian River County Opens An Innovative Plant to Prevent Pollution

When rain washes through the landfill, it creates a toxic mess called leachate or “garbage juice”. The leachate contains high concentrations of nitrogen, phosphorus, ammonia, PFAS and other toxic chemicals. Since the landfill is lined, the leachate is captured to avoid contamination of groundwater and must be safely handled. Previously, the leachate was sent for wastewater treatment locally and later transported away from the lagoon due to water quality concerns. The leachate evaporator will close the loop so that these materials do not leave the landfill. 25,000 gallons/day of potentially polluting water is reduced by 95% through the process of evaporation. The remaining 5% of concentrated leachate is placed back on the landfill. The energy source will be combo of Landfill Gas and Natural Gas. Monitoring is in place for air discharge.



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