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Wakulla County commissioners eye golf course as partial answer to wastewater debate

Published: Apr. 19, 2021 at 10:50 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Wakulla County’s search for wastewater treatment solutions has created a tense debate in the growing community, with one proposed site sparking backlash during a public forum in February.

According to County Administrator David Edwards, officials need to find new locations for wastewater spray fields. It’s part of an ongoing effort to phase out septic tank systems, which experts say are more harmful to the surrounding environment.

One site gaining momentum- and far less controversial- is the Wildwood Country Club. The golf course and RV Park off U.S. 98 already can use up to 200,000 gallons of treated waste water a day thanks to a current contract between the County and the golf course.

Owner David McQuary said his course wouldn’t be able to survive without the boost of water.

“If I watered the whole golf course everyday like I would like to, I would run out of water,” he said.

So he was interested when the county approached with the idea of expanding the amount of treated waste water to up to 750,000 gallons a day. The water doesn’t carry an odor.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “It’s what we need.”

Edwards said this proposal is still in the early phases, and needs to be carefully studied.

“It’s not how much you can dispose of, it’s how much the grass can take- it’s a balance,” he said.

In addition, Edwards said the controversial site would still likely be needed by the county, although perhaps at a lesser extent to start off. But Edwards said the site is a safe bet.

“No matter what we do it will be safe,” he said. “We’ll be cleaning the water. The water will be cleaner than the water in the aquifer now.”

At Monday’s County Commission meeting, several critics returned to voice opposition to the initial proposed site, while encouraging commissioners to use the golf course and continue to search for other locations.

“I think we need to do what’s best for the citizens,” one public commenter said. “You guys need to make decisions on what’s good for all these people here.”

According to Edwards, action on the initial site could pick up speed in May, while a study of the golf course’s feasibility could come by June.

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