Pollution from septic tanks poses a significant threat to our waterways. Since the 1990s, Martin County's Utilities Department has eliminated 70 package plants in Martin County; fifty of these systems were considered a threat to the Indian River Lagoon. By doing so, we have prevented nearly 6 million gallons per day of wastewater from entering our waterways.
In addition, we have completed eight projects to provide sewer service to 1,762 properties formally served by septic tanks, including areas in Jensen Beach, Golden Gate, North River Shores and Palm City.
Implementing the S2S Program
The Martin County Septic to Sewer program is a long-term initiative that launched in the fall of 2017 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. Each neighborhood will receive advance notice about when the project will start and finish.
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.
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.
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.
In 2017, Martin County received a State of Florida Legislative Appropriations Grant of $1.5 million for septic to sewer conversion to help reduce design and construction costs to property owners.
Homeowners will pay a portion of the remaining project costs 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.
For questions regarding Martin County's Septic to Sewer Program, please select the "Questions? Contact Us" button to submit an inquiry, or call Martin County Utilities at (772) 221-1434.