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Leon County Commission Approves Policy To Aid Wakulla River Restoration

Manatees swim at Wakulla Springs
Manatees swim at Wakulla Springs

The Leon County Commission has approved a new septic tank policy. The plan will provide grants to property owners who upgrade their septic tanks as part of an effort to address water quality issues in the Wakulla Springs Basin. 

The state is requiring Leon and Wakulla Counties to reduce the amount of nitrogen entering their ground water. Scientists have found that standard septic tanks are releasing pollutants into underground systems which affect the water quality of surrounding springs. The state has given Leon County $1.5 million to upgrade 500 septic tanks in an area south of Capital Circle down through Woodville.  

“With this grant we are well ahead of our goal to do the 500 septic tank upgrades within the five year period of 2017 to 2021,” says Leon County’s Public Works Teresa Hicker. She says property owners are happy to use the grant money to convert their septic systems. “We have actually been very pleased with the response from our septic to sewer initiative. The neighborhood that I mentioned first Woodside Heights, has actually got greater than 80% participation from the property owners.” 

The grant will pay 100% of the costs to upgrade septic tanks in the focus area. Hicker says many properties they will be approaching are already experiencing septic failures, and she hopes the grant can provide some relief to the property owners.  

“I’ve talked to our environmental health unit and the housing department which also works with property owners experiencing septic tank failures, and we fully expect to be able to get a very good reception in the primary focus area on extending these funds.” 

Hicker expects a healthier Wakulla River as nitrogen levels decrease from septic tank upgrades. Leon County has currently upgraded 186 septic systems and has 350 more in the design process.