Diligence needed on possible illegal dumping in Indian River County

Read the full Letter to the Editor published in TC Palm on June 10, 2017

by Adriana de Kanter, Vero Beach

Please read and share this story:

The focus of the May 9th article entitled “Indian River County doubles cost to dump sludge and septic waste,” was on doubling the below-market rate for treating waste. However, I think the larger story for the Treasure Coast is three-fold:

  1. Indian River County officials determined that 66 percent of the dumping was coming from out-of-county sources bringing septic, porta-potty, restaurant, and industrial waste to the West Regional Wastewater Facility (WRWF).
  2. Grab samples of the waste registered 100 times the acceptable levels for nitrogen and 20 times the allowable rate for phosphorous, both elements responsible for algae blooms.
  3. The Indian River County Board of Commissioners acted to cease all out of county-septic haulers from using the WRWF without knowing what options the haulers from St. Lucie, Martin, Brevard, and Okeechobee counties have to dispose of the waste.

Because St. Lucie and Martin counties do not have a facility and Brevard County only allows septic waste from their own county, the closest other facility is in Palm Beach County.

As a concerned citizen supporting efforts to preserve the health of the Indian River Lagoon, I hope government officials from across the Treasure Coast are monitoring waste companies to ensure they are not dumping into vulnerable landfills or the lagoon.

I fear that officials from each of these counties could be myopic in concerns for their own jurisdiction and not consider the implications for the broader Treasure Coast that spans multiple counties.

The Indian River County Commissioners action is understandable. They must meet a consent order that they entered into with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and serve its constituents.

However, hopefully, the FDEP is now monitoring the regional effects of these steps.