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Q. Any other concerns?A. Scientists worry about medications in the septic systems and their proximity to canals. And we don’t always test for those. Another issue is “optical brighteners,” bleach, water softeners and such. They tend not to break down in septic systems and seep into groundwater and to the waterways.Scientists sometimes use caffeine, which doesn’t break down in septic systems, as a tracer to see how quickly it gets from septics to the water.Some cases show it’s almost immediate, depending on soil types.Q. Didn’t environmental groups make grants to the city for water quality control?A. The local arm of the District Basin Board through our strategic plan identified $6 million to keep Marco on track. We gave $2 million the first year and we identified a million a year for four more years, because we know the importance of this. It’s part of our mission statement, water quality improvement and environmental enhancement.Q. Sum up your thoughts on the need, in environmental terms, to finish the sewer project.A. I just can’t understand why some don’t want to protect what they have on Marco. There’ve been horror stories on other barrier islands around the state.Honestly, Marco’s (septic) systems need to be replaced. They were a short-term fix. The State Dept. of Community Affairs has told the Island that it (septic system) is inconsistent with the city’s comprehensive plan.Marco needs to replace it. It’s either now or later. If they stop it now, people not on sewers now will have to spend money on replacing their septic systems and later, they’ll have to get sewers.The solution is a lot cheaper today than it will be tomorrow.That’s the view of Clarence Tears, director of the South Florida Water Management District. He has no financial or other personal stake in the controversy.He also has more than 20 years of expertise in water resources management.
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