It’s a win for the environment and for your wallet, but only if you act now.

That’s the message South Daytona is telling residents as the city begins a campaign to convince everyone on septic tanks to convert to the city’s sewer system by March 2020.

City officials conducted a public meeting Feb. 8 at the Piggotte Community Center to talk about environmental and financial benefits of making the switch for the 200 or so property owners in the city still using septic tanks.

More than 90 people came to the meeting and more than half of those on septic tanks have already committed to the switch, according to Public Information Officer Jeanne Willard.

“This is really an exciting program and the response from residents has been overwhelming,” Ms. Willard added. “Not only will this improve our waterways, but it will save our residents thousands of dollars.”

Thanks to $500,000 in funding from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and a community development block grant, South Daytona City Manager Joe Yarbrough said residents on septic can make the switch to sewer without pain to their bank account.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our residents,” Mr. Yarbrough noted. “Anyone currently on a septic with sewer availability will qualify for hookup at no cost, saving approximately $4,500. It’s hard to beat that.”

The DEP funds will also go towards making sure existing septic tanks are properly abandoned, which includes filling them up with dirt to make sure they don’t collapse.

The average cost to convert from septic to sewer is estimated by the city at $4,500 per property, including all applicable fees and construction costs.

Additional funds for this program are still being sought by the city through the St. Johns River Water Management District.

Even if that doesn’t come through, city leaders are urging residents to make the switch now while some funding is available, especially since the Florida Department of Health in Volusia County is not issuing any permits to repair or replace septic tanks in areas where a sewer system is already in place.

Florida law also requires residents to hook up to city sewer systems when available.

Besides the financial benefits, city leaders say moving away from septic will improve water quality and create a cleaner environment since contaminants from the tank eventually seep into the groundwater.

It should also lead to less maintenance for those who make the switch since there will be no need to pump the septic tanks, or worry about the tanks failing and creating unpleasant odors on the property.

City officials expect to start working on the conversions in October, with the second phase beginning in March 2019. The goal is to have everyone moved over to sewer by the following March.

Much of the work will be done in the communities of Country Club Gardens, just off Beville Road near the Daytona Beach Golf Club, and Palm Grove, which is between Big Tree and Reed Canal roads.

Septic tanks also are still in use in the neighborhoods of Cutters Way and Palm View off Nova Road, along Teague Street near Big Tree, the Sauls Road area and parts of U.S. 1 between Big Tree and Warner Christian Academy.

Actual construction plans won’t be finalized until the city finds more funding for the project.

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