Friday, May 24

Environmental group helps with Vero Beach’s septic to sewer conversion

A group of environmentalists and public officials in Vero Beach pose for pictures in front of a truck that empties septic tanks.

However, the real activity is behind Blane Stenviks home. Crews remove a septic tank from the Stenvik back yard and will hook his house up to the city sewer system.

We just want to do our part for it, Stenvik said who said he is just one small piece of the efforts to reduce human waste leaking into the Indian River Lagoon.

It needs to be cleaned up for us to have a healthy environment to live in without the stink and the fish kills, Stenvik said.

WPTV investigative reporter Dave Bohman showed in 2022 how there were high levels of sewage pollution in the Lagoon near Vero Beach.

The water is dark brown, and in the shallows, theres no longer seagrass: the main food source for manatees.

Research from Florida Atlantic University Dr. Brian Lapointe showed human wasted from septic tanks is the primary pollutant.

“The problem in Florida is conventional septic systems just don’t work, Lapointe said. They just do not remove the contaminants.”

Right now, the Clean Water Coalition of Indian River County has given 10 homeowners in Vero Beach zero interest loans to hook up to the city sewer system.

The group wants to add another 15 homeowners living near the lagoon or canals that feed it.

To save the lagoon, said Keith Drewitt of the Clean Water Coalition. To improve the lagoon water quality, getting septic tanks connected to city sewers is a big deal.

Its a big deal for environmentalists.

For Stenvik, a zero-interest loan that allows him to make yearly payments to hook up to city sewer system, instead of having to pay $15,000 right away.

And it helps us spread out the payments over several years, so its not going to be something that I have to handle right now, Stenvik said.

Vero Beach is making progress in getting more homeowners to ditch their septic tanks and hook up to the city sewer.

When WPTV investigated the issue nearly two years ago, the city said 36% of homeowners were on the city sewer line.

Today, that number is now 47%.

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