The Holley-Navarre Water System is seeking conditional-use of land that it has owned for 10 years to build two Rapid Infiltration Basin Systems (RIBS) to effectively eliminate treated waste water otherwise known as reclaimed water or effluent. There will be no mechanical building or equipment on the site of the RIBS and the entire site will be fenced for safety and security.
Williams Creek Road residents who live near the proposed location are already affected by heavy rains and stormwater runoff are not sure introducing more water is a good idea. “We already live in a flooded area – and now you are going to introduce more water and hope it will sink in? We can’t get rid of the water we have,” said Williams Creek resident Kelli Swim at the April 14 Zoning Board meeting.
Engineer Dale Long with Municipal Engineering Services explained that the RIBS are fully permitted by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and there was geotechnical data which showed that the RIBS would not contribute to future flooding. “RIBS are going to be located on a hill and sized to accommodate the water,” Long further explained.
The three Williams Creek Road homeowners who appeared before the Zoning Board explained that when the Holley-Navarre Primary school was built, the foundation was elevated and that water rushes down their street “like a river” when it rains heavily. The area was also affected by the 2014 rains and homes were flooded.
Williams Creek resident Connie Gamble expressed her concerns about introducing “waste water” into the environment and affecting the groundwater. “We have an environment that we are destroying and we aren’t fixing it – we are just adding to it,” Gamble said.
Gamble was assured by Long that if the DEP thought the water would contaminate, then they wouldn’t let the system dispose of it. “It is proven reclaimed water is good for the environment,” Long said.
Holley-Navarre Water System General Manager Paul Gardner explained that contaminated water never leaves the plant. “When you hear waste water – you think of waste water – but we are talking about treated effluent,” Gardner added.
Travis Tucker, a resident who lives in the Promise Creek subdivision questioned the water department regarding additional mosquito control problems Tucker was assured that the water does not stay above ground very long because it is quickly absorbed.
Zoning Board member Lonnie Hawkins was curious if the water department had searched further north for disposal of effluent. “We are looking at the Eglin Reservation but that would be three years away,” Gardner said. Gardner further explained that if they didn’t find ways to dispose of effluent soon, that sewer taps would be in short supply in the near future.
After all of the concerns were heard, the Santa Rosa County Zoning Board voted 4-2 in favor of approving the conditional-use of the property owned by the Holley-Navarre Water System. If it is approved tonight by the County Commissioners, the determination will be valid for 36 months.
Read the full article in the April 28 issue of Navarre Press. Click HERE to subscribe online.