Wekiva River amendment withdrawn but still lurking

An amendment that would have removed language in state law directing the Florida Department of Health to consider requiring advanced septic tank systems in the Wekiva River basin was withdrawn Tuesday.

The DOH last year proposed a rule that would have required homeowners in the area north of Orlando to upgrade their septic tanks before they sold their homes. The proposal sparked opposition from the Seminole and Orange County commissions because of concerns about cost.

The advanced systems cost $3,000 to $10,000 more than convention septic tanks, DOH said last year. The Florida Home Builders Association supported state budget language in 2009 that delayed nitrogen-reduction efforts by state agencies while a state-funded study of alternative septic tank technologies was continuing.

Sen. Carey Baker, R-Eustis and chairman of the Senate General Government Appropriations Committee, said Tuesday he withdrew the amendment to SB 776 at the request of Sen. Lee Constantine, R-Altamonte Springs and the bill’s sponsor. Constantine told him he would include similar language in SB 550, Constantine’s water bill, Baker said. And if the issue isn’t addressed, Baker said, the language could be amended to another bill during the legislative session.

“We need a good statewide policy and particularly not have something rushed through that may provide a tremendous cost and no proven benefit,” Baker said. Constantine was meeting with staff and was not available for comment. SB 550 also faces opposition from the Florida Home Builders Association because it would establish utilities to maintain septic tanks.

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