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.
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 $6,500 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.