We built this web site for the Florida citizens who care about our waters and are being asked to pay the bills for the septic system nitrogen reduction projects. This site contains studies and information that you most likely have not seen or been told about in public meetings, presentations and literature. It may or may not make a difference in how you feel about paying for these projects. You should, however, be presented with all the information available to best determine how effective these projects will be and if they are a good investment. If you have any questions about the information in this web site please feel free to contact us.
50+ years of a flawed and walk away septic system permitting program with mismanaged rules and regulations have created the mess of hundreds of thousands of mismanaged and failing septic systems to freely operate throughout Florida. We do nothing to assist septic system owners with prevention, incentive or repair programs to help them keep their systems operating as efficient as possible. We just permit the systems and walk away. This adds an unnecessary 10 MILLION lbs. of nitrogen to our waters every year. To put this in perspective this is equal to connecting 434,782 septic systems to sewer at a cost of $13 BILLION every year, and it grows bigger annually. This is easily preventable and affordable to fix, but we do nothing. The 10 million lbs. of nitrogen are over and above the nitrogen contamination numbers you are getting from the state, as they do not acknowledge the additional nitrogen contamination from the mismanaged and failing septic systems in their nitrogen reduction plans.
The FDOH allows one-third or more of Florida’s septic systems to operate in an improper, mismanaged or neglected state and many are operating well beyond their life expectancy. The FDOH also allows an estimated 2.2 billion gallons of septic systems unregulated raw sewage to be pumped and dumped throughout the state annually. We are supposed to believe that none of this has any impact on our waters and our only solutions to reduce nitrogen from septic systems is to septic-to-sewer an insignificant amount of systems, or upgrade the old system with a new and improved system that has a difficult time reducing any more nitrogen than the system it replaced.
FDOH studies clearly show that the cost and expenses of purchasing and maintaining the nitrogen reduction septic systems will not reduce anymore and most likely less nitrogen than a conventional septic system? Hundreds of millions of dollars will be wasted on this boondoggle providing little to no protection to our waters!
The FDOH has no confidence in the nitrogen reduction claims of these septic systems and has no shame in mandating their use in the BMAP areas, requiring public and private funds to pay for them!
FDOH Disclaimer: “the Department does not endorse or guarantee the functionality of any nitrogen-reducing feature purchased or installed under this program”
This is the disclaimer used by the Florida Department of Health on their Upgrade Incentive Program Applications. FDOH is requiring hundreds of millions in private and public funds to install these nitrogen reduction systems, yet they will not stand behind their performance claims.
FDOH’s research and studies do not support the installation of these expensive systems to reduce any more nitrogen than the conventional septic systems they are replacing, in fact it is likely that they will not reduce as much, and no one cares!
FDOH permitted thousands of the upgrade advanced septic systems with high nitrogen reduction claims throughout Florida in the mid 2000’s, the same type of upgrade systems to be installed in the BMAP areas. FDOH performed a $350,000 study in 2013 to evaluate the effectiveness of these systems.
FDOH learned that these very expensive systems to purchase and maintain only averaged 33% nitrogen reduction, this was after they cherry picked the systems they tested! The state agencies response to this study was to do nothing, ignore the study and mandate the use of these types of systems in the most vulnerable and environmentally sensitive areas in Florida (BMAP areas). The upgrade type septic systems averaging 33% nitrogen reduction will be mandated to replace conventional septic systems that reduce 50% nitrogen. How is this going to reduce the nitrogen in our waters?
It’s not the septic system type that removes nitrogen, it’s the septic system’s maintenance! Any type of septic system that does not receive its required maintenance will not reduce the amount of nitrogen of which it’s capable. The more complicated and expensive you make the maintenance, the more difficult it becomes for the system to meet its nitrogen reduction claims.
If our nitrogen reduction plan does not recognize, reduce and control the additional nitrogen from our flawed and mismanaged septic system permit programs, there is no chance the state or local nitrogen reduction plans will have any effect of reducing nitrogen in our waters. It’s comparable to draining a bath tub with a table spoon and leaving the water on, you’re simply not going to catch up. Every other industry understands that you must first reduce, limit and contain your problem, as this process helps you better understand and control the problem to prevent it from getting worse. Only after you follow these steps can you best evaluate and develop sound and economical solutions to repair, reduce or possibly eliminate the problem. This is usually how contamination problems are solved in most industries.
Our current nitrogen reduction plan is to ignore the 2.6 million septic systems currently operating under flawed and inadequate septic system rules and regulations, that unnecessarily adds 10 million lbs. of nitrogen a year to our waters. Spend $50 million a year to fund septic to sewer programs that can only remove 1,667 septic systems, removing only 38,333 lbs. of nitrogen a year. In our environmentally sensitive areas the State’s “BMAP” plan is going to force homeowners to install “advanced” septic systems that have proven not to perform any better than the septic system it replaces, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars to the taxpayers. This is being done with absolutely no concern over the owner’s ability to afford the expensive maintenance these systems require. So honestly, how well do you think this plan is going to work out for the taxpayers, property owners and our waters?
How can we learn, evaluate or improve the impact of a “device” that is claimed to have a negative impact on our environment when you don’t know how many you have, their condition, if they are working properly, if they are maintained properly or if their hazardous waste is being disposed of safely?
WE CAN DO BETTER!
FL's flawed septic system program adds 10 M lbs. N/yr equal to septic-to-sewer 434,782 sys at $13B
The upgrade septic system will only reduce and estimated 3 more lbs. of nitrogen than a standard septic system at a cost of $7,500 per pound, if maintained properly and this is the best-case scenario. However, even when properly maintained they most likely will reduce the same amount of nitrogen as a standard septic system. We are spending hundreds of millions of dollars of public funds to replace septic systems that will reduce no more nitrogen than the system it replaced. Where is the value for this massive investment of public funds? Where is the benefit outside of the health department being able to collect a $75 permit renewal fee every year from each system replaced?
Florida's septic systems can contaminate our waters in several ways. Florida allows its septic systems to operate in a neglected state, far past their life expectancy and lets their unregulated raw sewage to be pumped and dumped throughout the state. These contamination sources are easily preventable. Proper upkeep of our septic systems and the quality of our waters are interrelated. In fact, everyday decisions can adversely affect the operation of our septic systems and their ability to protect our health and environment therefore, helping septic system owners to take better care of their septic systems is a health and environmental benefit to everyone in Florida. After all, the purpose of our septic systems is to treat household liquid waste to prevent it from contaminating our beaches, wells, lakes, streams, springs and groundwater. If we are not properly maintaining these systems they are not protecting our waters. Containing septic system nitrogen and taking better care of our existing septic systems is our first line of defense in reducing their nitrogen. Pound per pound, dollar for dollar septic system restoration programs are the fastest, most efficient and effective way to reduce septic system nitrogen.
Upgrades only reduce est 3 lbs. of nitrogen more than a standard system at a cost of $7,500 per lbs.
The State of Florida has an estimated 2.6 million septic systems operating throughout the state and we permit an estimated 30-40,000 more every year. A conventional septic system has a life expectancy of 20-25 years provided they are properly maintained and that is not the case here in Florida. It is an accepted practice to allow our 2.6 million septic systems to operate throughout Florida knowing that they are not properly maintained, along with a significant amount of them operating well beyond their life expectancy. Plus, our state freely allows an estimated 2.2 billion gallons of unregulated raw sewage from septic systems to be pumped and dumped throughout Florida annually, without anyone knowing if it is disposed of properly. A septic system failure study also shows that 23% of the newly permitted septic systems installed today are estimated to fail and 15% more are estimated to fail within the next five years. This adds 140,000 pounds of nitrogen a year from newly permitted septic systems and an additional 84,000 pounds of nitrogen every fifth year. A fair assessment of at least 33% of our septic systems are operating in a neglected state and the potential of at least 10% of our transported raw sewage is being improperly disposed. This contamination is all due to a mismanaged septic system program. This does not have to happen, it's easily preventable, and affordable to fix, but we do nothing.
Failing septic systems rules & regs will continue to contaminate FL's waters with 10M+ lbs. N/yr.
Another never discussed nitrogen pollution source is the estimated billions of gallons of raw sewage, yes, billions with a “B”, being pumped, transported and disposed all over the State of Florida without any reliable form of accountability. There is very little known about where the raw sewage goes after it is pumped from a septic system. Our state uses the honor system to manage the transportation and disposal of pumped septic waste. If septic system sewage is not dumped in a state-approved facility, the state agencies do not recognize it to exist and certainly do not recognize it as a pollution or nitrogen contamination source. Under present regulations, there is no management in place to track the transported raw sewage, no way to know how many septic tanks are pumped or if the waste was properly dumped in a state-approved facility.
2.2 Billion gals of raw sewage transported and dumped all over the state without any accountability.