Senators strike septic tank testing requirements from algae bill

septic tanks
A strike-all amendment now limits the legislation to project monitoring.

Legislation that would’ve addressed septic tanks and their role in nutrient pollution now won’t necessarily do so.

SB 1538 was written to implement recommendations of the Blue-Green Algae Task Force. It originally mandated owners of septic tank systems have their system tested at least once every five years “to assess the fundamental operational condition of the system, prolong the life of the system, and identify any failure within the system.”

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) would’ve had to administer a septic tank system inspection program, with a county-by-county implementation plan phased in over 10 years, with priority going to those areas within a priority focus area for springs.

Such a program also would’ve required enforcement procedures for owners failing to obtain timely inspections and failure of contractors to report results to DEP and the owner in a timely manner.

A strike-all amendment approved by the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources now limits the legislation to project monitoring

“The remaining (basin management action plan) language would require DEP to monitor whether projects with a cost exceeding $1 million, that are intended to reduce nutrient pollution, are actually working as intended, and these assessments will then be required to be included in each BMAP update,” Orlando Democratic Sen. Linda Stewart said.

There was no debate on the bill, while representatives from the League of Women Voters, the Sierra Club and the Florida Onsite Wastewater Association all waived in support.

The amendment and bill passed without a dissenting vote. The bill now awaits action in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Environment and General Government.

Wes Wolfe

Wes Wolfe is a reporter who's worked for newspapers across the South, winning press association awards for his work in Georgia and the Carolinas. He lives in Jacksonville and previously covered state politics, environmental issues and courts for the News-Leader in Fernandina Beach. You can reach Wes at [email protected] and @WesWolfeFP. Facebook:


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