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Simple facts should remind everyone why the SB 550 inspection provisions and the rule-making authority of the Department of Health MUST BE repealed – and why it needs to stay repealed.

  • $60 Million Dollars. This is the cost in 2011 to Florida’s residents for the first 100,000 slated for septic system inspections under SB 550. The first 100,000 systems targeted were those installed most recently, and the ones least likely to be failing – hardly a wise use of limited taxpayer funds.
  • $300 million Dollars. This is the cost extracted from our citizens and Florida’s economy of the planned five year cycle of inspections.
  • The inspection rule was nearly adopted without the Dept. of Health ever offering a cost/benefit analysis or a science-based justification.

Unfortunately, no fewer than twenty amendments to SB 1698 produced a bill that promised to be SB 550 all over again. In the Senate Community Relations Committee, CS CS CS SB 1698 was amended with language that mandated in all counties that had FDEP (FL Dept. of Environmental Protection) impaired water body designation (TMDL nutrient impaired designations) and that counties with TMDL’s could pass ordinances that were more stringent than the original inspection program outlined in SB 1698. Homeowner protections did not apply. This latest amendment made SB 1698 totally unacceptable, and all but 11 out of 67 counties have “impaired” designations. Once again, no cost/benefit or science-based justification supports this.

We can tell you that since that last committee hearing, negotiations on a new amendment slated to be introduced into the next committee hearing, the Senate Budget Committee, have been on-going and intense. For the first time, citizen groups like TRI-County Association H.E.L.P, Markham Woods Association, and some Tea Party affiliates have been invited to the negotiations table to reverse the impact of some of those unacceptable amendments, and make this a good bill. Kudos to Florida Home Builders Association (FHBA), Florida Association of Realtors (FAR), Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) for changing the dynamics of how things get done!

It’s good language. Homeowner protections are intact and robust. No rule making by the Dept. of Health, Bureau of On-Site Sewage, tightly controlled inspection and repair processes that do not go beyond the basic function of the original septic system design. If this amendment to SB 1698 is not introduced and passed, either in the Budget Committee or on the Senate floor, there are only two other choices –

(1) Strike all the inspection provisions of SB 1698 and make it a bill that deals with repealing the inspection provisions and the DOH rule making authority of SB550. This action would match House Bill 13 (Rep. Marti Coley), the bill introduced and passed almost unanimously by the House of Representatives.
(2) Delay implementation of SB550. The issue of inspections can then be addressed next year when Phase III of the Nitrogen Reduction Study is completed. At that point, hopefully we will have quantitative proof of need, and cost-effective repair/replace solutions to address any environmental or public health issues septic systems may be causing.

Time is short for you to register your opinion with your district Senator and with the Senate Budget Committee. Go to and click on “members.” Each committee member has an individual page with phone, fax, e-mail addresses. To find your district Senator, click on “contact FL legislator” on this Sludge Report page. You will be prompted to find your area Senator. Do not delay in making your wishes known to your legislators and to the committee members. Session ends in a few short days! Remember, your legislators all said SB 550 had not been properly vetted in 2010. They voted in a Special Session last November to delay the bill until 2011 and they could re-evaluate the septic system inspection language and the DOH rule making. That time is now. They need to respond to the citizens concerns and vote to repeal the inspection language of SB550. Contact them and make your voice heard. Amend, repeal, or delay. Those are the choices.

Masked bandit responsible for polluted marshes! About the time the scientists think they have it all figured out, and point fingers of blame at septic owners, along comes the masked bandit! Read and remember this has happened before. In Orlando, septic systems around a neighborhood lake were being blamed for the lake going “green,” until scientists discovered it was migrating birds causing the problem. Here is one more story of citizens standing firm until the truth was known.

Hey, epa! Did you do your homework?

Rep. Cliff Sterns and Governor Scott challenge EPA Numeric Nutrient Criteria, want documentation outlining justification, science, pre-emption of Florida’s own EPA approved plan. At the bottom of this link is an attachment StearnsLettertoEPA.pdf. Be sure to open it and read what Rep. Cliff Sterns is demanding in the way of evidence. EPA only has two weeks to produce the required evidence asked for in this congressional letter.