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A SPECIAL PLACE — Visitors enjoy the fresh air and cool water at DeLeon Springs State Park. Water from the springs spills into Spring Garden Lake.

I would like to thank reporter Eli Witek for the recent article about the “Water Quality Issues” meeting hosted by the DeLeon Springs Community Association Inc. Feb. 24.

The headline “DeLeon Springs must deal with septic tanks” hit at the center of what this meeting was about, a collaboration between the DSCA Inc., Volusia County Utilities and Jones Edmunds to educate our community on the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s BMAP (Basin Management Action Plan) and what it will mean for our citizens.

There are approximately 30 “Outstanding Florida Springs” as identified by the FDEP in 2016. The Florida Legislature required the FDEP to implement measures to reduce pollution through the 2016 “Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act.”

Through this act, the FDEP “must adopt septic system remediation plans for Outstanding Florida Springs, in areas where the FDEP has determined that upgrade or elimination of septic systems is necessary to achieve water-quality objectives to protect environmentally impaired springs.”

Volusia County must have a BMAP to reduce nutrients that are impairing the spring and water quality in DeLeon, Blue and Gemini springs.

This reporter obviously viewed the presentations, listened to the presenters, and took time to interview those of us who have invested in this community for a long time. She also took time to get her statistics right, and we appreciate that, since there can be a lot of drama surrounding this issue.

I would like to clarify that the initial focus of this 20-year time frame for the BMAP is along the commercial/business corridor of U.S. Highway 17 North.

When the DSCA Inc. undertook a similar project, working with Volusia County and City of DeLand Utilities (our area’s service provider, should we have these services) a decade ago, we obtained more than 51 percent of the landowners’ signatures along that corridor for a Special Assessment District to pay for these crucial lines, a hefty financial burden for this lower-income community.

But this project would have gotten our “downtown” off antiquated septic systems that cannot meet current codes, leaving prospective businesses to spend about $60,000 to bring their commercial septic systems into compliance, along with having to provide and bury their own fire-suppression tanks because we don’t have hydrants, and comply with well-water regulations, all before allowing their business to make the first sale.

All of this is cost-prohibitive, and has turned our downtown into an area where people simply can’t afford to do business. Many buildings have remained empty for years, or are on shared wells put in by the DEP decades ago when a large underground fuel plume was discovered, and others are on wells that must undergo expensive regular testing for public water safety.

This new project gives our community hope, and breathes new life into what we worked so hard to achieve, without laying the entire financial burden on the backs of the landowners via a Special Assessment District, since our BMAP gives us access to FDEP funding to help pay for these improvements that protect our water supply.

And, that is the real issue: protecting our spring and our drinking-water supply, and working together for positive solutions that will help restore our community to the lovely jewel it once was.

Thank you.

— Munizzi is president of the DeLeon Springs Community Association, a nonprofit organization whose mission is “Making DeLeon Springs A Better Place to Live, Work and Play.”