House, Senate close on septic tank language

Rep. Alan Hays, left, talks with Rep. David Rivera and Sen. JD Alexander, the House and Senate budget chiefs.

House and Senate budget negotiators on Sunday remained in disagreement on language that prohibits state agencies from requiring advanced septic tanks for another year.

Springs across the state have become choked with weeds and algae as nitrogen in groundwater from a variety of sources have increased. The House and Senate have agreed to spend $2 million in 2010-11 on the third year of a Florida Department of Health study of septic tank technologies.

Budget language last year forced DOH to halt adoption of a rule requiring landowners to install advanced septic tanks in the Wekiva River region when they are selling homes. This year, HB 5003 and SB 2702 both have language that would extend the ban through phase two of the DOH study.

But the Senate language would not extend the ban to agency rules or policies that “indirectly” require the use of the advanced septic systems.

Charles Lee of Audubon of Florida said the study is a waste of taxpayer dollars. “In a budget-short year, the waste of millions on unnecessary studies is inexcusable, particularly when the wasteful spending is intended to simply prolong polluting practices for which there is a remedy,” he said in an e-mail.

Rep. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, said the study may point to alternatives to advanced septic tanks, costing $6,000 to $10,000 more than conventional systems. “Before we impose any new restrictions on the people of the (Wekiva) area we need to make sure it is based on solid science, irrefutable facts, not a bunch of hypothetical hoped-for stuff,” he said.

(Story content provided by the Current, produced by The Florida Tribune. Story and photo copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not copy or redistribute without permission.)