Volusia County Council votes 4-1 to not discuss ‘toilet to tap’

Volusia County Council’s Jeff Browers hopes for a county ordinance banning a toilet-to-tap initiative were dashed when his council members approved a motion never to discuss the issue again — or at least not until a new council takes office was sworn in.

At the Council meeting on Tuesday 18th October Brower requested that an additional item be placed on the agenda relating to a direct drinking water reuse regulation. Brower said his intention is to clear up “some public misconceptions” about blackwater reuse and what the county could legally do in response. This wasn’t the first time Brower had brought up the subject; On Aug. 16, Councilwoman Heather Post — who was absent from the Oct. 18 meeting — tabled a motion to direct the county to consider a bylaw amendment to regulate blackwater, but he died for lack of a second.

According to an Aug. 15 county memo, state law prevents local governments from banning potable water reuse in many areas, and Senate Bill 64 requires local governments to authorize potable graywater technology “in certain circumstances.” Gray water includes waste from baths, bathroom fixtures and laundries. The county memo says that while Volusia cannot ban blackwater technology statewide, it could do so within its service area.

Only the city of Daytona Beach proposed a toilet-to-tap initiative in 2018. The initiative was not pursued further. In 2020, the state directed the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to begin drafting future rules for drinking water reuse.

Brower said that by passing an ordinance against blackwater technology, the county would provide a template for future municipal adoption and focus on the aquifer.

“I think that takes our eyes off of it,” Brower said. “I think if we allow the toilet to the tap it means we’re just going to move on as we are and take care of the water later because we can always drink the toilet to the tap.” I think our focus has to be on conservation, on how we grow, on where we grow, and conserving our water.

He argued that an anti-toilet faucet ordinance would improve tourism and therefore the economy.

But Councilor Ben Johnson said he believed they were trying to find a solution to a problem that didn’t exist.

“Nobody talks about it,” Johnson said. “The first thing we ever heard about it was Mr. Brower, frankly you brought it up and it was all political.”

Brower argued that the state had indicated it was coming in the future and that now was the time to work on measures to prevent it. Johnson said the issue could be discussed in January 2023 when the new council was sworn in. He is not running for re-election. Brower said he would bring it up again.

Johnson’s motion passed 4-1, with Brower voting against. In addition to Post, Council member Danny Robins was also absent.

After the vote, Councilor Barb Girtman said she said it was not an issue for her to discuss the issue, but that she felt there was no reason or urgency to bring it up again now.

“I don’t know what the arguments are,” she said. “I’m not going to make any guesses as to what they are, but I’m not sure why you brought it back at this point when there isn’t a critical issue that needs to be addressed in the next 90 days when we have so many others.” critical issues have table coming two weeks behind a major hurricane.”

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