BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — After hearing written and oral requests from Brevard County residents, a meeting is scheduled to be held Monday to discuss a proposed SpaceX expansion at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
SpaceX has big plans for the property it is leasing from KSC as it hopes to build and operate an industrial wastewater treatment facility on the site where it processes Falcon 9 first stage boosters, known as Hangar X .
The draft proposal was first filed on February 2, 2022. It seeks permission from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to create a facility that “would discharge up to 3,000 gallons per day of untreated drinking water in a stormwater management system”. system which, under specific conditions, empties into a ditch leading to the Indian River Lagoon.
After the Notice of Proposed Proposal was published in Hometown News Brevard, it caught the attention of Titusville residents, like Nathan Slusher, who approached agencies, like the Titusville City Council and the Brevard County.
Following his comments during the meetings of the two bodies and the letters sent to each, a series of letters were sent to the FDEP in February and March, calling for a public meeting on the subject.
Brevard County Commission Chair Kristine Zonka, who also represents District 5 in the county, sent a letter to the FDEP formally calling a public meeting on the matter.
In it, she points to the voter-approved half-cent sales tax designed to fund “projects and programs to reduce pollution in the lagoon” and which adds more stress to the IRL, even if the “additional load inflow” is “small (up to 5.64 lbs/yr from TN and 1.88 lbs from TP), it creates an additional burden on Brevard County ratepayers.
“TN” stands for “Total Nitrogen” and “TP” stands for “Total Phosphorus”.
“This burden and associated impacts on the health of the lagoon are of great concern to the citizens of Brevard, many of whom have reached out to their elected officials with questions and concerns about the permit project and the implications of this new source of pollution,” Zoka wrote. “The public is also concerned about other potential pollutants, including chlorine, copper, lead, iron, manganese and zinc mentioned in the draft permit.”
Zonka concludes the letter by emphasizing the need for the now pending public meeting and stated that, given the importance of the space industry to the Space Coast’s economy and brand, there may be a solution that help everyone.
“We hope there is a solution that supports private investment in space while protecting the Indian River Lagoon,” Zonka wrote.
Laurillee Thompson, co-owner of the Dixie Crossroads Seafood restaurant in Titusville also wrote an official letter to the FDEP with similar concerns and wanted to know what protective measures would be in place.
She said in her letter that deteriorating health in IRL means her family’s restaurant has not been able to sell lagoon fish for some time and believes a new source of water fresh in the estuary is a bad idea.
“Growth and development has contributed to too much fresh water entering the Indian River lagoon, which has reduced the salinity of the lagoon. How can you justify adding more more fresh water in this nationally significant imperiled estuary?” Thompson wrote.
Chealsea Patridge, Brevard’s Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor, wrote in her letter that she questions whether the proposed sewage treatment facility would violate FDEP’s own rules.
She points to the North Indian River Lagoon Basin Management Action Plan which states, “Given that the North IRL is impaired water that does not currently meet the water quality standards of the State, new developments in the basin cannot increase nutrient loads in the lagoon.
“It appears to me that this permit violates BMAP, given that the permit allows 3.0 mg/L total nitrogen and 1.0 mg/L total phosphorus,” Patridge wrote. “The BMAP also details the previously mentioned mandate for the county to reduce nutrient loads and total maximum daily loads.
The meeting to discuss the sewage treatment facility is scheduled for Monday, April 25, 4-7 p.m. EDT at the Cape Canaveral Public Library. An FDEP spokesperson said “all public comments, including requests for a public meeting, will be reviewed and considered before the agency takes final action to approve or deny the permit.”
“To ensure the protection of water resources, all of these facilities in Florida, including those of SpaceX, are subject to discharge and monitoring requirements, which can be found in the proposed permits. The water will be sampled for several parameters before discharge, including nutrients, metals, etc. to ensure regulatory water quality standards are met,” the agency spokesperson said in a statement.
It is unclear at this point if a SpaceX representative will be present at the meeting to answer questions in addition to the FDEP representatives.