Hillsborough and Pinellas counties net $28M for septic-to-sewer conversions
Septic tanks can contribute harmful nutrients to the groundwater system and require large drain fields — typically incompatible with dense urban or suburban areas.
Nearly 20,000 septic systems are expected to be replaced across the state with this money, which is funneled through the Wastewater Grant Program established in Florida’s Clean Waterways Act of 2021.
“It’s through major funding commitments like this, paired with our talented and passionate staff and partners, that we can truly reduce nutrient pollution and continue to restore our natural resources,” Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton said in a statement.
DeSantis recently signed Executive Order 23-06 that expanded the Wastewater Grant Program to “address additional sources of nutrient contribution.”
The full Gibsonton project is expected to cost roughly $87 million and be finished by 2026, according to Hillsborough County. The Board of County Commissioners recently entered into a separate grant agreement with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for over $20 million to help fund Phases 1A, 1B, 1C, and 2 of the project. The Water Resources Department will use federal Covid-19 relief dollars to provide matching dollars. The new state money is for Phases 2, 3 and 4.
Michigan-based Wade Trim Inc. is providing professional engineering services for the Gibsonton project. A vacuum sewer pump and vacuum sewer system main pipes will be among the items installed. The construction portion of the project still needs to go out to bid, according to Water Resources Director Lisa Rhea.
Hillsborough has been aggressive in its effort to transition tens of thousands of septic tanks to centralized sewer systems. However, in June 2021, Commissioner Pat Kemp questioned whether the effort was contributing to sprawl in places like Balm and Wimauma.