(Nov 12, 2019 BIRLC) The Brevard Indian River Lagoon Coalition and the Clean Water Coalition of Indian River County (CWC) recommend that Florida take substantive and effective actions to ensure clean waterways and provide ample clean drinking water for current and future generations. Based on the available science, the primary nutrient loads are shown as three major slices on the pie chart, which will vary in size based on the specific watershed. Together they comprise the major root causes of the excess nitrogen, phosphorus and suspended solids entering and degrading Florida’s waters.
There is a specific issue with regard to agricultural lands where sewer sludge (bio-solids aka concentrated human waste) has been deposited for many years, creating excess concentrations of nitrogen and particularly phosphorus. These legacy loads are capable of continuing to leach into groundwater and waterways long after the sludge is applied.
To fund corrective action for these issues, CWC and BIRLC recommend:
- The Governor and Legislature direct and fund FDEP to create a Request for Proposal (RFP) for one or more pilot projects to demonstrate environmentally benign, closed cycle, 21st century technology that would eliminate sewer sludge and its application on Florida’s farmlands and ranches.
- Restore the Water Management Districts (WMDs) pre-2000 millage rates. A .25 mils increase ($25 per 100,000 taxable value/year) would generate an additional $421 million/year to be spent as matching funds for cities and counties to implement projects to:
- Convert septic systems to sewer where they impact impaired waters
- Upgrade sewer treatment plants to Advanced Wastewater Treatment (ReUse Water – 3mg/N/L)
- Build infrastructure to retain and treat stormwater
- Implement a water withdrawal fee. In addition to the water quality crisis, we also have a water quantity WMD’s are reaching their limits for Consumptive Use Permitting. This fee would encourage conservation and be evenly spread to all users.
- Fully fund Florida Forever from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund so that natural lands are preserved. Keeping land natural is the best way to keep water clean while recharging our aquifers.
2020 Recommended Regulatory Action
In addition to our Legislative Action Recommendations, the Clean Water Coalition of Indian River County (CWC) and Brevard Indian River Lagoon Coalition recognizes the need for stricter regulation in the following areas:
Sewage Treatment & Transmission
- It is recommended that all Utilities be required to have an Asset Management Plan to ensure that equipment and infrastructure are kept in good repair. Capacity planning must accommodate anticipated growth and effluent concentrations generated by pump outs during routine inspection.
- A penalty system for sewage spills must be designed that forces utilities to make the necessary expansion or repair to prevent repeat offences.
- All newly permitted septic systems that are located on a barrier island or within 60 meters of any impaired waterbody system shoreline including natural or manmade tributaries, and within 40 meters of all other waterbodies should be required to be an advanced treatment system capable of removing a minimum of 65% of the nitrogen loading. (example: Brevard County)
- Existing septic systems need to be inspected every 5 years to ensure they are functioning properly and being adequately maintained to prevent surface and groundwater contamination.
- Repairs of pre-1983 septic systems must be corrected to provide 24” separation between the drainfield and the high-water table or be replace with an advanced treatment system capable of removing 50% of the N loading.
The March 2010 Draft “Design Requirements for Stormwater Treatment Systems in Florida” should be seriously considered for Statewide implementation.
Marine Sewage Discharge
Sufficient funding should be provided to Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission to post notice and enforce the State’s Marine No Discharge Regulation to prevent dumping of sewage into our waters by transient and live-aboard boaters. Marinas must support the law by performing routine pump outs for all lessees.
Basin Management Action Plans (BMAP)
Every State watershed not in compliance with Clean Water Act standards be required to develop and implement a BMAP with Total Maximum Daily Load reduction for Nitrogen, Phosphorus and sediments. The State must assign responsibilities and deadline and provide funding for sufficient, on site, real time monitoring and testing to ensure compliance. There should be NO exceptions to the TMDL’s, including agricultural lands within the respective watershed. Sea Level Rise must be calculated into the TMDL process in all BMAPs.