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Septic tank graphic shows the flow of water in and out of an underground tank
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Bill Embraces Algae Task Force Recommendations

A Fla. legislative committee unanimously passed some Blue-Green Algae Task Force recommendations, including a septic tank inspection every five years.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee unanimously advanced a bill Monday recommended by the state’s Blue-Green Algae Task Force. Among other things, SB 832 (Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando) would require septic tank inspections every five years. The bill has two more committee stops before it would be considered by the full Senate.

In 2019, Gov. Ron DeSantis directed the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to

create a Blue-Green Algae Task Force to study toxic algae blooms and find ways to reduce their occurrence, generally by identifying the source of nutrient pollution that feeds them. The task force recommended:

  • DEP should develop a more comprehensive regulatory program to ensure that onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems (OSTDS) are sized, designed, constructed, installed, operated and maintained to prevent nutrient pollution, reduce environmental impact and preserve human health.
  • More post-permitting septic tank inspections should take place.
  • Protections for vulnerable areas in the state should be expanded.
  • Additional funding is needed to accelerate septic to sewer conversions.

SB 832 applies to septic tanks that aren’t required to have an operating permit. It directs DEP to administer an inspection program and adopt rules that include creating:

  • A schedule for a five-year inspection cycle
  • A county-by-county implementation plan phased in over a 10-year period, with priority given to areas near natural springs
  • Minimum standards for a functioning system
  • Requirements for pump-out or repair of a failing system
  • Enforcement procedures if an owner fails to schedule an inspection or a contractor fails to report inspection results to DEP and the system owner

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