The 1,000 or so septic tanks on residential properties in the City of Gulf Breeze are potential environmental hazards, and the municipality is proposing a massive switch to its sewer system.
“We would like to start making this happen, especially in areas near Santa Rosa Sound, to protect it from potential contamination,” said Mayor Matt Dannheisser.
Further, the city is eyeing another possible 3,800 septic tank users outside its borders in the Midway and Tiger Point areas. The city is exploring a program to recruit those homeowners as new sewer customers of its South Santa Rosa Utility System.
But the costs are daunting, with the construction of new sewer hookups—connecting houses to main line pipes—could present a wide variety of expenses to homeowners from an estimated $1,250 to more than $30,000. That depends on whether neighbors agree to connect too and share costs, and if federal or state aid becomes available. “Some people are not going to be able to afford this. We’re looking for ways to help them with the expense, maybe with government grants and loans,” said Dannheisser.
City officials are researching possible funding sources to reduce or even eliminate individual homeowner expenses in cases where the environment is most clearly at stake. State Sen.-elect Doug Broxson suggested last year that area utilities might get help from Triumph Gulf Coast, the agency that is responsible for disbursing Northwest Florida’s share of $1.5 million in BP oil spill settlement money.
More immediately, Dannheisser said, Gulf Breeze may use some of the $5.9 million it received from the Florida Department of Transportation last month as payment for right-of-way to build part of the planned Pensacola Bay Bridge.
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