How Florida Septic Regulations Affect Homeowners: 4 Things you need to know.
Septic System Laws Are Complex
In an attempt to protect Florida’s water systems from the ramifications of algae blooms, State and local government authorities are implementing new and more invasive oversight and regulations into homeowners’ use of sewage treatment and disposal systems (“septic systems”). The effort to reduce nitrogen pollution purportedly caused by septic systems is at the forefront of Florida’s environmental issues. As Florida Realtors and Homeowners grapple with a sea of already complex laws and regulations, even more laws are being proposed. Florida landowners with septic systems should become aware of these changes to best prepare for the expense of staying compliant. Here are four things you need to know.
- Establish a relationship with a reputable septic tank contractor to upkeep and maintain your septic system. A search for a licensed septic tank contractor is available at http://www.floridahealth.gov/statistics-and-data/eh-tracking-and-reporting/septic-tank-contractors.html. Your contractor can also give you guidance on how to extend the life of your system.
- Know which regulations and laws apply to you.
- Be on the lookout for a state-wide requirement for onsite inspections every five years. Onsite Inspections may take effect under a proposed bill founded on recommendations set forth by the Blue-Green Algae Task Force.
- Determine whether your property lies within a Priority Focus Area identified by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Septic systems in these areas are subject to additional regulation through the Water Quality Restoration Program. A PFA search is available at www.floridadep.gov/PFA map. These areas are subject to a Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP), and your county may have a part to play in the enforcement of the plan.
- Generally, lots less than one acre in size are subject to a higher level of regulation and scrutiny.
- Inquire about remediation and septic to sewer conversion projects your county may consider or study. Some septic areas, particularly those within BMAP areas, may be required to connect their properties to sewer even if a functioning septic system is onsite.
- If you are considering building a new home that requires a septic system, you will want to avoid the headache of failing post-permitting inspections. Be sure to consult with your general contractor and a septic tank contractor to ascertain the cost of installing a system that complies with the latest recommendations and requirements set forth by the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. This is especially significant on lots less than one acre.
- For existing septic system owners, plan for repair or replacement well in advance of an emergency. Septic systems can last up to 30 years on average with regular maintenance and upkeep; however, local county health departments have permit requirements that may demand replacement rather than repair of an existing septic system.