DeBary approves plan to replace 2,300 septic tanks with sewer system

DeBary City Council approved the plan to remove 2,300 septic tanks that contributed to the pollution of Gemini Springs.

The 54-page report on the Gemini Springs wastewater treatment feasibility study, which was unanimously endorsed at the August 18 meeting, was the work of Jones Edmunds, an engineering and consulting firm; Volusia County water resources and utilities; and the city of DeBary.

“It’s been a long way,” DeBary city manager Carmen Rosamonda said during the special council meeting.

The gradual expansion of the 2,300 tanks and the provision of a vacuum duct system for the affected residents could take 20 years and more than 50 million US dollars.

Money for the mandate:To clean up Gemini Springs, DeBary plans to displace 2,300 septic tanks at state expense

“Our work is just beginning,” said Mike Ulrich, director of water resources and utilities for Volusia County.

While the council’s approval includes empowering the city manager to make minor corrections to the wording if necessary, there is unlikely to be any material changes to the report between the council’s vote and submission to the Ministry of Environment by the end of next month.

“I appreciate the thorough time we put into making this as painless as possible,” said Councilor William Sell. “This is a big thing for me, and it affects my neighbors, who are mostly on a steady income.”

For residents who will eventually say goodbye to their septic tanks, the cost of connecting to the proposed vacuum sewer system is estimated at $ 5,000.

The cost that appears on the property tax bill can be estimated for up to 20 years and would be about $ 317 per year or $ 26 monthly at a 2% interest rate, said Shari Simmans, DeBary’s director of economic development, communications and government affairs. Homeowners will also be responsible for the sewer system, which costs $ 48 a month.

Officials hope the state and available grants will cover the remainder of the $ 50 million prize.

Experts say Gemini Springs in DeBary suffers from too much nitrogen.  As a result, the city is working on a state-sponsored plan to clean up the spring.

As soon as the plan receives the approval stamp from the Ministry of the Environment, the draft of the project will be put out to tender.

Designing and engineering the project could take a year to 18 months, Ulrich said.

Brian Icerman, senior vice president and managing director of utilities infrastructure at Jones Edmunds, said the state likes to see projects that are “shovel-ready”.

“The sooner you start this piece, the more likely you are to get money from the state,” Icerman said.

When asked how soon physical construction could begin, Icerman said breaking ground by 2023 isn’t unrealistic.

Councilor Patricia Stevenson said she felt like she was part of a group project for the school and now the group was waiting to find out her grade.

“I think as we speak to and teach citizens that this really was the best financial decision we could make for our city,” said Stevenson. “This will save homeowners money and meet our environmental goals.”

Special report: The crisis in the Volusia septic tank

Leaking nitrogen: As soon as pure water is slowly suffocated by high concentrations of nitrogen caused by sewage treatment plants

Florida’s Expectations for Source Pollution Removal

The mandate to clean up Gemini Springs came in 2016 when the Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act 30 lawmakers identified “Outstanding Florida Springs”.

Twenty-four of these springs, including Gemini, DeLeon Springs, and Blue Spring, have been declared impaired due to pollution.

The Department of Environmental Protection wants more than 14,000 pounds of this nutrient load to be removed in Gemini Springs by 2038.

The current nutrient load in Gemini Springs is about 20,496 pounds per year, according to the Department of Environmental Protection. Urban lawn manure accounts for 46% and sewage treatment plants for 41%.

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