Septic tanks inspection delay becomes law without signature

Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday allowed a bill to become law that delays a statewide inspection requirement for septic tanks.

The inspection requirement was in SB 550, which then-Gov. Charlie Crist signed in June with support that included the Sierra Club Florida and the Florida Home Builders Association. Supporters said the requirement would protect public health and water quality.

SB 2A was adopted on Nov. 16 by the Legislature during its special session after an outcry from some Panhandle residents and legislators over concerns about the cost of inspections.

The bill was sent to Scott on Jan. 4 following his inauguration, thereby avoiding a possible Crist veto. Scott had 15 days to sign or veto the bill before it would become law without his signature.

“By the showing of the tremendous bipartisan support of the six-month suspension of the inspections, a willingness to work together to form a non-burdensome process is almost certain,” Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City, said in a statement Wednesday.

The Florida Department of Health estimated that inspections would cost $150 to $200, according to a Senate bill analysis. Replacing failing septic systems could cost $5,000 to $7,000. DOH estimates that 10 percent of Florida’s 2.6 million septic tanks are failing.

SB 2A delays implementation from Jan. 1 to July 1. But DOH already had delayed implementation in December pending action by the governor on the bill, a department spokeswoman said earlier this month.

Meanwhile, bills have been filed for the 2011 session that would repeal the requirement altogether. One of those bills, SB 130, was filed by Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness and chairman of the Senate Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation.

(Story provided by the Florida Tribune. Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not copy or redistribute without permission, which can be obtained by contacting