Titusville plans to finance sewer infrastructure projects with federal relief funds

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TITUSVILLE, Florida. – Amid mounting fire from environmentalists over recent sewage spills affecting besieged Indian River Lagoon, town of Titusville is considering American Rescue Plan Act funds to cover costs on pending list of plans infrastructure.

The Christmas season marks a year since 7.2 million gallons of raw sewage poured into the Indian River Lagoon near Sand Point Park in Titusville, an event that prompted the State Department to environmental protection to fine the city $ 200,000, according to News 6 partner. Florida Today.

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The city says these penalties should be offset by improvements made or planned to its sewer infrastructure. But then, on December 16, the city saw another 3,000 gallon sewage spill from a broken pipe, continuing a long line of problems associated with aging infrastructure in the community of North Brevard.

Some local environmentalists suspect that the city’s sewage spills could be one of the factors contributing to the record number of manatee deaths this year.

The $ 1.9 trillion ARPA was passed by Congress last year and signed by President Joe Biden with money designated to compensate local governments for shortfall due to the COVID pandemic. 19.

In total, Titusville received $ 4.3 million from this round of ARPA funds. Between May and June of next year, they are expected to receive an additional $ 4.3 million, which can go towards similar projects.

Of the total funds received, Titusville allocated $ 2.39 million for water and sewer projects. Among the projects are:

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  • Replacement of 50 year old ski lift stations near Sand Point Park. Lift stations ensure that wastewater is properly pumped into the system and is not being pushed back. If not maintained or replaced, failure can result in large wastewater spills. These lifting stations can be overloaded or lose power during hurricanes, causing sewage to enter the lagoon.

  • Improvements to the water chemicals plant including chemical containment, feed pumps and control systems to ensure optimal pH levels in Titusville water.

  • Anti-backflow devices to prevent city water from flowing backwards through the pipes.

  • Stormwater improvement projects near South Street to filter impurities from runoff before it enters the lagoon.

“Save our lagoon from the Indian River”

Lorilee Thompson, local environmental activist and owner of Titusville’s seafood restaurant Dixie Crossroads, said the infrastructure issues and their impact on the lagoon have been a “big black eye” for Titusville.

Thompson and other local lagoon advocates suspect the town’s sewage spill may have contributed to the record-breaking deaths of more than 1,000 sea cows this year, helping to fuel the excessive algae growth that has blocked sunlight on seagrass – the manatee’s staple diet.

She is happy to see some of these ARPA funds earmarked for the renewal of Titusville’s aging sewage and water infrastructure.

“Anything we can do to improve our infrastructure. It is all wonderful. The projects that save our Indian River Lagoon, ”said Thompson.

“Each of these projects is necessary. We have to stop this load of nutrients in the lagoon, ”she added. “I am for anything they can do. They also have to take care of our old infrastructure. So many of our pipes fail and leak. Every little thing we do is a big help.

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When sewage drains into the Indian River Lagoon, the nitrates in the waste fuel dangerous algal blooms that block sunlight and release toxins, kill seagrass beds and harm other animals. wild, creating a cascading effect that kills fish, manatees and dolphins.

Deputy City Manager Tom Abbate said ARPA funds will help the city’s aging infrastructure.

“We always have projects ready to go,” Abbate said.

“It’s incredibly helpful. We have such a backlog of projects. We have an aging infrastructure, the city is growing and we want to be able to keep up with the growth by renewing infrastructure that could potentially fail, ”he added.

“We’re going to sit down as staff after the holidays and start strategizing and coming up with a potential spending plan that we’ll present to the Board. By the time the money arrives, we should be ready to allocate it through the Council, as we did with the first installment of money. “

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“We want to be able to replace aging infrastructure before there is a catastrophic failure,” he added.

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