Wekiwa neighborhoods discuss state’s septic system requirements

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Orange County Commissioner speaks Tuesday, August 6, during the meeting as Robert Brooks, manager of Wekiwa Springs State Park, listens.

Residents from local neighborhoods near Wekiwa Springs State Park are rallying together to push back against state regulations that require homeowners to replace their septic systems with alternatives the residents deem too costly, too flawed, and too inconvenient to use.

Orange County District 2 Commissioner Christine Moore organized a Tuesday, August 6, meeting for the Wekiwa Springs Alliance at Clay Springs Elementary School.

By forming this alliance, Moore hopes to start a dialogue between Wekiwa homeowners regarding the Wekiwa Springs Protection basin management action plan (BMAP) and different feedbacks and solutions.

The Wekiwa basin plan went into effect in July 2018 and affects homeowners of Seminole, Orange, and Lake counties. The Wekiwa BMAP requires that by 2038, all 55,000 affected Wekiwa homes must remove their septic systems and replace them with alternatives.

The Wekiwa BMAP is one of the state’s several springs protection BMAPs. They lay out a set of strategies for reducing pollutants in waters so as to meet the allowable loadings established in a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).

Three more meetings are scheduled for Wekiwa homeowners – September 10, October 15, and November 5. The November meeting is when a straw poll will be held. There must be at least a 67 percent voters’ approval among the members of the alliance.

Moore told homeowners it’s important to spread the word about the meetings and the issue surrounding the septic systems, and for all of them to work together.

“So we have all these meetings, you feel you may not have to be at every one,” Moore said. “That’s fine, but some of your neighbors who are not here do.”

Bob Samson, a Bent Oak subdivision resident, and his wife Andrea run “The Sludge Report,” an online resource chronicling the impact of state-mandated septic systems on Wekiwa communities.

Samson noted what he said were several concerns he had with the alternative advanced septic systems, including the negative impact on home values, the restriction of the fixed maximum volume of daily water processing, and the mechanical and operational risk that would need regular maintenance and periodic replacement.

Over a 20-year lifespan, it would cost a household over $80,000 for an advanced septic system — $40,000 for two systems, and $40,000 for miscellaneous costs, according to Samson. The life span of an advanced septic system is about 10 years, hence the reason for purchasing two.

“These advanced systems are electromechanical nightmares,” Samson said.

“You’re going to pay maintenance on them. They’re going to use electricity. Our government will force you to have them inspected annually and renew permits on them.”

According to Samson, Orange County requires that any time a sewer line runs through a community, 67 percent of the community members must vote to approve.

This story appears in full starting on page 1A in the Friday, August 9, issue of The Apopka Chief. Subscribe now!