HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (WTOC) - The Hilton Head Island Town Council unanimously approved more than $3 million of funding for a master sewer plan.
The plan is to get all properties on the island connected to the sewer system. Right now about five percent of the properties are still using septic tanks but that's a big improvement from the almost 90 percent 10 years ago. Now the newly approved funding will help decrease that number by even more.
"What we found is that septic systems are so much more suited to a more rural environment where you have land and the ability to have your septic system percolate properly. You get into a place like Hilton Head where it's more of an urban environment where these septic systems are not ideal for our area," said Pete Nardi, general manager of Hilton Head Island Public Service District.
That's one reason the town is aiming to have all properties connected to the sewer system, but there are environmental concerns as well.
"Our soils here are not conducive to septic systems functioning optimally so the sewer system is the ideal option from a public health standpoint and environmental standpoint for house waste water treatment," said Nardi.
There are about 900 properties that are not connected to the sewer system, which will cost a pretty penny. But the Hilton Head Island Town Council is spearheading the funding efforts.
"We already have a project that we're finishing up from last year. And we have $300,000 already in for this year. And earlier this year we added about $500,000 for next year. So there's already $800,000 and through years two through five we've already designated about three and a half million," said Susan Simmons, director of finance, Hilton Head Island.
The master sewer plan is for five years with the hopes that all properties on the island will be connected by 2020. The community foundation of the Lowcountry is raising money to help individual homeowners cover the connection costs.
Connecting to the sewer system will also have benefits for the community in general. For example, this waste treatment plant filters, cleans and recycles the water for other uses on the island like irrigating the golf courses and maintaining the wetlands.