bildeSilver Springs is a perfect sample of the misuse and mismanagement of wastewater and overexertion of natural springs. The spring, in the past a shining example of Florida’s beautiful natural waterways, is now clouded with green and brown algae caused by nitrate pollution. Nitrate pollution comes from various sources – among them are industrial dumping, poorly maintained septic systems and fertilizer and agricultural runoff. A local Ranch’s request to pump 13 million gallons a day from the aquifer makes the situation worse. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) made a proposal allocating $1 million in projects and improved regulations to save the Springs.

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Our owner, Bob Himschoot had this to say in response to Environmentalist Bob Knight’s comments:

I read the Ocala.com article “State pledges funds, regulations to clean up Silver Springs”. However, the suggested use of allocated funds that Environmentalist Bob Knight cited in the article is something that would do little to mend the algae and nitrate issues in Silver Springs. He said: “The money should be used to get rid of private septic tanks and help property owners pay to hook up to county wastewater treatment plants.”

Plans like this, similar to a plan that we have unfolding in the city of Cape coral in Southwest Florida, can cost millions in new infrastructure that doesn’t account for the tens of thousands in assessments individual homeowners would likely have to shell out to hook up to that same infrastructure. Maintenance, as we saw in a recent issue at a wastewater facility in Miami Dade, is far less expensive in comparison to paying for improvements and repairs for the lifetime of that facility. (In this case, the repair costs associated with improving the pipe infrastructure amounted to more than $1 billion dollars. While this article refers to the construction costs, it has not addressed the environmental and health costs to the community.http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/07/24/2909494_repair-bill-over-1-billion-to.html#storylink=addthis).

It’s easy to see that the upfront and lifetime maintenance costs of additional hookups to a wastewater facility would be far less beneficial from a cost perspective in comparison to properly maintaining existing infrastructure. Septic infrastructure needs only to be maintained regularly to avoid nitrates or wastewater being expelled into the environment, for the fractional cost of $250-$500 every 3-5 years. In fact, even in the cases of repairs and complete replacements with brand new septic systems, the expenses are minimal in comparison to new municipal treatment facility hookups and a lifetime of monthly central sewer bills for residents.

It’s important that we continue to regulate and inspect municipal wastewater facilities, holding them to higher standards in addition to simple educational efforts and government incentive programs that help homeowners better understand the benefits and avoided environmental impact with a properly maintained septic system.  

Photo Credit: Alan Youngblood

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