Echoing a theme in municipal election campaigns of recent years, the Deltona City Commission has enacted an ordinance allowing existing homeowners with septic tanks in older parts of the city to forgo connecting with a sewer system.
The ordinance, which passed unanimously on second and final reading April 17, provides that homeowners with septic tanks may make voluntary sewer connections, but it does not require them to do so.
“Whereas, … if the customer so desires and if such sewer service is available but does not under any circumstance force an existing residential customer to connect to the City of Deltona’s sewer system,” the ordinance reads in part.
The city does require developers of new housing developments to install sewer lines and to connect each of the homes to the municipal sewer system. City officials also are working to extend wastewater lines to businesses along major roads, such as Saxon Boulevard, in the hope of attracting more commercial development. Civic and business leaders say sewer service is a must for economic development, as investors and lenders often frown on septic tanks for waste disposal.
If, however, a septic tank in a non-sewer area fails to work properly, the owner is responsible for repairing or replacing it.
“I just want to make certain that no one is going to be forced to hook up to a sewer,” Commissioner Maritza Avila-Vazquez said. “You will not be forced to go onto a sewer.”
Most of Deltona’s homes rely on septic tanks for waste disposal. Of the approximately 33,000 water customers in Deltona, about 6,000 also have sewer service.
Over the years, there have been calls to develop a citywide sewer system, including retrofitting the older sections of Deltona, but the capital cost would probably run into the nine-figure range or even higher. Official estimates of the cost of building such a system to cover the sprawling city in years gone by have been as high as $350 million.
For the past decade, Deltona has had the highest monthly sewer bills in the east Central Florida region, as shown in reports by consultants hired by the city to fine-tune Deltona’s utility rate structure.