Martin County COVID-19 Updates
Read moreFor Martin County COVID-19 Updates
CARES Act assistance available for individuals and businesses
Read moreFor CARES Act assistance available for individuals and businesses

Septic to Sewer Conversions


  • Crews installing sewer lines
Page Updated: 
October 11, 2019 at 10:05 AM

Septic Systems and Our Waterways

While excessive discharges from Lake Okeechobee, along with local stormwater runoff, are both threats to the health of our waterways, septic systems are also part of the problem. Leaching of septic tank effluent into the groundwater from septic systems, especially in high density residential neighborhoods and those close to the water, are another contributing factor.

Through Martin County’s Septic to Sewer (S2S) Conversion Program, our goal is to connect homes and businesses currently on septic systems to the county’s wastewater collection and treatment system. The reduction and elimination of septic systems is one way we can proactively improve the health of our local waterways, inclusive of the St. Lucie Estuary and Indian River Lagoon. 

Elimination of Wastewater Treatment Plants (Package Plants)

Since the 1990s, Martin County's Utilities Department has eliminated 70 package plants throughout Martin County. Package plants are community-sized facilities that provide basic wastewater treatment, typically with groundwater discharge of partially treated effluent. Of the 70 package plants eliminated, 53 of these systems were considered a threat to the Indian River Lagoon.

As a result of the elimination of these package plant facilities in Martin County, we have prevented a potential of nearly six million gallons per day of wastewater from entering the ground water and eventually our waterways. In addition, we have completed eight projects to provide sewer service to 2,762 properties, formerly served by septic tanks, within the Martin County Utilities service area.

Two examples of decommissioned package plants located at Ocean Breeze Park and Miles Grant.

This image demonstrates two examples of package plants and their close proximity to the Indian River Lagoon, both of which have since been eliminated.

Why Convert from Septic to Sewer?

For our health: To reduce contamination of our waterways with enteric bacteria from insufficiently treated wastewater, which at elevated levels may be a potential health risk for upset stomach, diarrhea, eye irritation and skin rashes. To keep septic tank effluent out of groundwater wells used for drinking water.

For the environment: To protect our lagoon, estuary, and offshore reefs and the quality of our waterways by reducing nutrient inputs that contribute to algae blooms and are detrimental to sea life and seagrasses. These grasses are vital to the health of our lagoon as they serve as a nursery for juvenile fish; a habitat for shrimp, crabs, and seahorses; and a food source for manatees.

For the economy: To help the individuals and businesses who depend on clear, clean waterways for their livelihood as well as recreation and tourism.

Connect to Protect

The Martin County Septic to Sewer (S2S) Conversion Program is a long-term initiative that launched in the spring of 2015 and is being completed in phases, beginning with properties in areas where engineers have determined the need is greatest.

In most areas, a vacuum pump station, designed to blend in with the neighborhood architecture, will be installed, and connecting pipes will be laid to link each house in the neighborhood to the county’s wastewater system.

In other smaller neighborhoods, individual grinder stations will be installed at each home to efficiently pump effluent into the county's wastewater system for treatment. Martin County and its contractors are committed to making every effort to minimize disruption and inconvenience to neighborhoods during the construction phase of the project.

Construction work will take place with sensitivity to hours of operation and the need for emergency vehicles, school buses, postal deliveries, and other services to access the neighborhood. 

Making the Connection

Upon completion of construction of the projects, each affected property will be notified of the systems’ availability and the requirement to connect within one year. A Martin County Building Department plumbing permit is required for each property making connection to the system. A Martin County Health Department permit is required for proper abandonment of the existing septic tank.

Once a home or business is connected to the county’s sewer system there will be:

  • No need to spend time or money having the septic tank inspected and pumped out
  • No worry that the toilet won’t flush following rain events
  • No need to spend time or money having the septic tank and drain field maintained
  • The satisfaction of knowing you are now part of the solution to reduce pollution and help protect our waterways

Funding the Program

With thousands of properties in Martin County in need of septic to sewer conversion, this is an expensive and long-term project. Martin County is exploring every option available to reduce the fiscal impact on residents.

Homeowners will pay for each project through a non-ad valorem assessment that will appear on their annual tax bill at a low interest rate, plus associated fees for administrative costs, over 20 years. A public hearing will be advertised, and individual notices sent to provide an opportunity for citizen input on the specific septic to sewer conversion project. Following the public hearings establishing the special assessment, a notice will also be sent to each property to explain the options for paying the non-ad valorem assessment.

Contact Us

For questions about Martin County's Septic to Sewer Conversion Program, submit an inquiry online, or call Martin County Utilities at (772) 221-1434

Back to top