TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Sept. 23, 2010 – A bill passed by the Florida Legislature, SB 550, requires septic tank homeowners to have an inspection every five years. The Florida Department of Health (DOH) is now drafting rules for compliance. The law becomes effective on Jan. 1, 2011, with the inspection component phased in over the following five years.
The Legislature created stricter septic tank rules to protect the environment. Better septic systems are designed to filter out more nitrogen, which feed weeds and algae.
But the rule comes at a significant cost to the state’s 2.6 million homeowners that rely on a septic tank, and Florida lawmakers representing rural counties that rely heavily on septic tanks – Rep. Marti Coley (R-Marianna) and Sen. Evelyn Lynn (R-Ormond Beach) – have promised to introduce legislation next year to repeal the septic tank inspection measure.
“I just simply think that to mandate every five years for every homeowner with a septic tank to have it inspected is unnecessary and big government,” Coley says.
The DOH has heard from a number of counties and homeowners worried about the $100 to $300 cost of a septic inspection, and Gerald Briggs, DOH’s bureau chief for onsite sewage programs, says he’s “very concerned this will cost property owners,” and “we are making sure the cost is as low as we can make.”
State officials believe some septic tanks pollute more than others, and the mandatory inspections will help identify those homes. If an inspection does uncover a major problem, new drain fields could cost homeowners as much as $5,000 or $6,000 to fix, according to Sam Averett, president of Averett Septic Tank in Lakeland.
“Every system needs to be maintained,” Averett said. “You are affecting some water body somewhere – everywhere in the state … If the homeowners were maintaining their systems to begin with this would not be an issue – but they are not.”
Source: Bruce Ritchie, 09/21/2010
© 2010 Florida Realtors®
Reprinted with permission. Florida Realtors®. All rights reserved.