POINT OF VIEW: Septic to sewer conversion is vital for our waterways

Feb 01, 2018

Thanks to the partners of the Lake Worth Lagoon Initiative — including Palm Beach County, Palm Beach County League of Cities and Florida Inland Navigation District — for their ongoing efforts to restore the lagoon’s beautiful ecosystem.

These local partners know the lagoon is the heart of our local community. That is why over the next year they are willing to put up nearly $14.7 million in local matching funds and are working to obtain nearly $3.9 million in state funding for water quality and habitat restoration. Since 1998, approximately $86 million in legislative grants and local funds have supported 52 restoration projects in the 20-mile-long lagoon estuary. The initiative is a holistic local approach to restoring the health of the lagoon through stormwater retrofits, habitat restoration and wastewater system conversions.

Palm Beach County deserves thanks for one project in particular — the proposed $667,000 conversion of septic tanks to a sewer system in the town of Hypoluxo. This effort would convert some of the hundreds of remaining septic tanks contributing pollutants to the lagoon’s watershed from North Palm Beach to Ocean Ridge.

The county and the Lake Worth Lagoon Initiative are shining examples of agencies stepping up to deal with the septic threat in South Florida. Others would be wise to take heed and follow suit. Hypoluxo Septic to Sewer Conversion would be at least the third project in which local partners and the Florida Legislature have partnered to convert septic tanks to sewer systems in the Lake Worth Lagoon watershed since 1998.

Septic tanks in coastal watersheds do not receive as much media attention as other environmental issues, but they are a scientifically recognized threat to our waterways and estuaries. I feel strongly that this is an overlooked issue that must be addressed.

Projects funded through the Initiative are how water quality will be improved in the Lake Worth Lagoon. Hopefully, other communities are watching and will do their part to protect their estuaries from threats to water quality as well.

MELANIE PETERSON, WEST PALM BEACH

Editor’s note: Melanie Peterson is a member of the governing board of the South Florida Water Management District.