Septic Tank Inspections Delayed Six Months

Law delaying inspections could be prelude to elimination of program
By: Gray Rohrer | Posted: January 21, 2011 3:55 AM

Gov. Rick Scott allowed SB 2A to pass into law Wednesday, pushing back the start of a program to inspect septic tanks by six months. Some lawmakers, however, want to go further than that -- perhaps as Scott was hoping -- and get rid of the program altogether.

Florida legislators passed a bill last year, subsequently signed into law by then-Gov. Charlie Crist, requiring the Department of Health to inspect septic tanks throughout the state every five years. But after the November election, new legislative leaders -- Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, and House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park -- called a special legislative session where they passed a law postponing the start of the program.

The program was supposed to begin Jan. 1, but was delayed while the new bill went before the new governor. Scott did not sign the bill, but SB 2A became law after 15 days by Florida statute. The new start date for the program is July 1.

Lawmakers who voted for the delay praised Scott’s decision.

“I applaud Governor Scott for allowing Senate Bill 2A to become law. This decisive step postpones the implementation of septic tank inspection regulations, enabling lawmakers to analyze whether or not such a mandate is necessary and saving taxpayer dollars in the meantime,” said Sen. Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando.

But the inspection program may never get off the ground, as legislators have filed a slate of bills aimed at eliminating the program, saying it will cost homeowners too much and add another financial burden during a harsh economic time.

DOH estimates inspections to run between $150 and $200, but environmental groups like the Sierra Club of Florida that backed the program have noted that replacing a failed septic tank can cost as much as $7,000.

Three bills in the Senate and one in the House have been filed to prevent the inspections.

“Governor Scott called me (Wednesday) to inform me that he would be allowing the legislation regarding the delay of implementation of septic tank regulations, passed during Special Session 2010A, to become law. I told him ‘thank you,’ and that the Legislature would be working on a permanent resolution to correct this overburdensome regulation that I voted against when it passed the first time,” said Rep. Brad Drake, R-Eucheeanna, a co-sponsor of the bill in the House.

The Sierra Club has held that the inspections would prevent pollution caused when septic tank overflows seep into Florida waters.

However, tea party groups and homeowners in North Florida, where much of the state’s 2.6 million septic tanks are located, have fought against the inspections as costly and unnecessary. The inspections would have included evaluations and pump-outs, with the costs borne by the owner. Septic tank owners who purchased their tank or had it serviced in the last five years would have been exempt from the inspections.

During a meeting next week, the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee is scheduled to discuss the bills filed that would eliminate the inspection program.


Reach Gray Rohrer at or at (850) 727-0859.

Comments (2)

11:37AM JAN 22ND 2011
I have been using the Septic-Helper 2000 for 20 years. It says it has the enzymes that work in the tank and out in the drain field. New EPA Mandates and Senate Bill 550 says that even a wet spot in your drain field could require replacement of your entire system.
9:01AM JAN 21ST 2011
Hopefully, Governor Scott will have the "water committee" looking at the big picture and hopefully, they'll be keeping in mind that in the not too distant future, we may be drinking that water.

I also hope they ask and answer truthfully, if the investment in clean water today is worth the cleaner sources of water for tomorrow. And peace of mind knowing one of the things every single person has no choice but to consume everyday is as clean and pure as it can be.

I know people are already drinking reclaimed septic water and it's said to be very clean. But after reading about a study done on the water quality of desalination plants in Australia, I have to wonder. The study found that bugs and viruses passed through the filtration system of 3 out of 7 plants. Those plants were located nearer to septic outfall pipes from sewer treatment plants. Cold viruses are one thing, but what about the AIDs virus? How about the HPV virus?

Besides that we do know trace amounts of pharmaceuticals we flush are showing up in our water. What effect does that have? Do trace amounts of birth control and Viagra have any effect on developing babies? We once thought they were protected but now know with certainty that over 200 chemicals and counting can and do pass through the umbilical cord to their blood.

Anyway, maybe it doesn't have to be a one size fits all law. Instead of it being thrown out, it could be tailored. Rural areas where water has time to naturally filter and it's unlikely we'll be relying on that water anytime soon can be exempt.

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