Hundreds of home owners in Charlotte County have to switch from septic to the county sewer system, and they don’t have a choice.
The switch could cost home owners as much as $11,000, but the county says these changes will help prevent another algae and water crisis.
Residents of Charlotte County are not thrilled with the forced change.
Susan Goldhahn said there is nothing wrong with her 1985 private septic system. But Charlotte County wants her to hook up to its sewers. “I am a single person living here working two jobs, trying to make ends meet,” she said. “Then, I get hit with this!”
Goldhahn is one of over 500 property owners who were sent a notice from the county in recent months and the change is not cheap. While some will get time to prepare because of a countywide backlog, at least 50 property owners will need to switch within a year. Homeowners with a gravity system will have to pay around $6,500. But properties with low-pressure sewer systems are more complex. Improvements can cost over $11,000.
The burden also falls on businesses like Access Mowers in Englewood. According to an email exchange between Access Mowers and Charlotte County Commissioner, Bill Truex, that businesses will have to pay $13,000 for the sewer and installation. “The fact of hooking up to it is no problem,” said Joseph Murray, owner of Access Mowers. “The fact of me paying for part of it is what I have in question.”
The county calls the project a “mandatory situation” for the area amid Southwest Florida’s water crisis. “By getting these extra 500 people off of septic and onto a sewer system,” said Craig Rudy, utilities director for Charlotte County, “helps us hopefully clean off our water quality in the area.”
The county said it is offering financing for homeowners or they can take out a personal loan. Business owners will have to take out a business loan or pay out of pocket. There is a similar project going on in Cape Coral that is installing new potable water lines, sewer lines and irrigation lines.