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Florida Rep. Randy Fine files bill to expand funding for sewer hookups

By on March 23, 2021 0

State Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, introduced a bill Friday morning in the Florida Legislature that aims to make it easier for homeowners to get financing to hook up their homes to a pipe. sewers, upgrading their septic tanks and other projects.

“I want to make it as easy as possible for people to do the right thing,” Fine said of his proposal, which he described as his Indian River Lagoon-focused bill for the session. .

Outdated septic tanks and the high number of homes in Brevard not connected to sewers are considered a major contributor to the water quality issues plaguing the ecosystem.

the HB 387 of 23 pages is seeking to make funding available through the Property Assed Clean Energy (PACE) program for other types of contract work on residential and commercial properties. The bill also adds regulations on how the funding is administered.

“It’s to make sure people can pay the money back and to make sure people understand what they’re getting,” Fine said. “This increases consumer protection for all PACE finance contracts.”

Part of the bill’s text states: “Improved properties that have been upgraded with advanced on-site treatment systems or have been converted to central sewers significantly improve the quality of water that can enter streams, lakes, rivers, aquifers, canals, estuaries or coastal areas.”

Brevard Wastewater Inventory

PACE low-interest loans can be secured to cover the upfront costs of green home improvements, which homeowners can then pay off in addition to their property tax bills over 15 to 20 years.

“PACE is a long-term, fixed-rate source of financing…Homeowners can use PACE financing to cover 100% of eligible project installation costs, including all equipment, materials, and labor related works”, according to the PACE website.​

In theory, lower energy bills cover the cost of tax levies.

Previously, PACE funding could be used to cover work done to make a home more energy efficient, such as certain types of electrical work and upgrading ventilation systems. It would also cover disaster mitigation work such as installing wind-resistant shingles or reinforcing a deck.

Fine’s bill seeks to expand the options to also cover storm and flood mitigation works as well as emergency battery power or storage systems in addition to sewage treatment works.

According to the bill, this would cover:

  • Replacement or upgrading of an on-site wastewater treatment and disposal system with an advanced on-site wastewater treatment and disposal system or replacement of an on-site wastewater treatment and disposal system sewage on site through a central sewage system.
  • Working to raise a structure above base flood elevation to reduce flood damage.
  • Construction or repair work of a flood diversion device or levee improvement, which includes, but is not limited to, repairs and replacements of levees, banks, berms, green infrastructure -gray, upland rod walls or other infrastructure that prevents tidal waters from flowing onto adjacent property or the public right-of-way.

A provision also covers work that mitigates “health and environmental risks” such as the removal of “lead, heavy metals, contamination with polyfluoroalkl substances or other harmful contaminants in plant systems. potable water”.

This can include switching well water to municipal water systems, replacing pipes or installing water filters, depending on the bill.

The dark green areas on this Florida Department of Health map are patches with known septic systems.  The lighter green areas are plots suspected of having septic tanks.  Dark brown areas are parcels known to be connected to municipal sewer service, and orange areas are likely to be connected to sewer.

The bill’s additional regulations aim to ensure that loans can be repaid, while improving consumer protection. The new requirements also provide that the contractors carrying out the work are in good standing.

“It’s to make sure the person can pay it back, that they know what they’re getting into, and that the people doing the work are doing it honestly and transparently,” Fine said.

He predicted that a Senate version of the bill would arrive in the coming days.

Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon is a watchdog reporter for FLORIDA TODAY. Contact him at [email protected] Twitter: @alemzs