While a sign of progress, building a new sewer line isn’t often cause for major celebration.
But in DeLeon Springs, the news that the county and state are partnering to bring a central sewage system to the U.S. Highway 17 corridor has been greeted by the community with a great deal of excitement. And, rightly so.
This is good news for everyone and everything — from the environment and protection of water resources to the local economy and business sector and the town’s beloved natural spring.
This truly is cause for celebration!
This major utility upgrade for the small town of DeLeon Springs has actually been about a decade in the making, as that’s how long residents have been banding together to help make this happen.
And, it most likely would have happened years sooner if not for the Great Recession.
Then, in 2016, the Florida Legislature designated the popular spring at DeLeon Springs State Park one of 30 outstanding springs in Florida.
Thankfully, this put a new emphasis and urgency on strengthening water-protection measures in the springshed. And one way to do that is to switch over from individual septic tanks that can leach into the groundwater to a more environmentally friendly sewage system.
The county had already commissioned a study evaluating options for addressing water-quality issues in the springshed.
The final piece recently came together when the Florida Department of Environmental Protection agreed to put up $2.5 million to pay for the sewage pipeline.
It was a deal too good to pass up, and I’m delighted to report that the County Council unanimously approved the project May 19.
As ecologically significant as this is, it’s more than just a win for the environment. It also promises to give a needed economic jolt to DeLeon Springs.
Without access to central water and wastewater infrastructure, businesses looking for locations to set up shop in West Volusia often bypassed DeLeon Springs, and some businesses that were already there had to close.
Now, once constructed, the availability of central sewage and water lines will make it less complicated, less costly and more inviting for businesses to settle there.
An elated Amy Munizzi, president of the DeLeon Springs Community Association Inc., couldn’t wait to rush back home immediately following the County Council’s vote to announce the good news to the community.
These are her words: “This was the finest of government in action to see the state, county and local community work in tandem to do what is right to protect the Florida we love.”
I couldn’t agree more!
— Girtman is a member of the Volusia County Council, representing DeLand-area District 1. She also helps lead the county’s Complete Count Committee for the census.