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TRI-County Association H.E.L.P. is up and running and ready to represent the citizens of Lake, Orange and Seminole County. Stated mission – impact legislation and rule-making governing septic systems. Phase II of the FDOH Nitrogen Reduction Strategy is underway and Hazen & Sawyer wants to install new septic systems in Wekiva Study Area yards – free. Contact Hazen & Sawyer for information. More news from around the state and from Tallahassee, and an editorial about “low hanging fruit.”

TRI-County Association H.E.L.P. With a stated mission to uphold property rights of septic owners in Orange, Lake, and Seminole Counties, the TRI-County Association is now incorporated and focused on impacting legislation governing the use of septic systems in the Central Florida area. “Health, Environment, and Legislative Policy” is not just an acronym,” said Bill Smalley, the association’s Executive Vice President and Membership Chair. “It’s what we do – help represent the citizens’ vested interests, and we have hit the ground running to achieve our goals for this legislative session.” A formal position statement outlining the groups’ priorities for pending septic inspection legislation has been released to legislators by the Association.

The incorporation of the Association is a formalization of a multi-year, informal grassroots effort to stay on top of legislation and rule-making about Wekiva Study Area septic systems. With SB550 spreading the impact statewide, the group is expanding the reach of the group to encompass all impacted residents in the three counties. The Sludge Report will report on the Association’s activities, but remain an independent website. Readers of this Report who live in the TRI-County area are encouraged to support this organization – there is strength in numbers! You can receive TRI-County Association membership information by e-mailing Your contact information will then be passed to the TRI-County Association.

PHASE II FDOH Nitrogen Reduction Strategies Needs Volunteers in the Wekiva Study Area! Hazen & Sawyer, a Tampa-based environmental firm has been awarded the contract to conduct Phase II of the study approved and funded by the legislature last session. This phase calls for field testing of various types of nitrogen-removal alternative septic systems. The study also will conduct on-site testing to determine nitrogen concentration and movement through soil and into groundwater. You can volunteer your home for a free septic system installation! There are financial protections for the homeowner who volunteers to have them install a new system on the property. If you are interested in participating, you should contact Hazen & Sawyer directly for complete information and review the homeowner agreement. You can also volunteer to be part of the on-site well stations monitoring tests. For more information: Contact Ms. Josefin Edeback or Mr. Damann Anderson at 813.630.4498.


Water Policy Committee Chair, Rep. Trudi Williams confronts the Sierra Club over their involvement in the lawsuit filed with the EPA which resulted in the federal agency imposing nutrient standards on Florida. At issue is the state being in charge of its own policy and improvement. Issues of agriculture industries being non-competitive as a result of standards were also raised.


This is a must read. Once again, what we’ve been saying all along, is true. The high cost and functionality of electrically operated systems is causing well-intentioned mandates to be reversed.

EDITORIAL: The EPA’s imposition of Nutrient Standards is on hold. As stated in a previous issue, Senator Bill Nelson, former Senator LeMieux, and current Senator Marco Rubio have publicly opposed the EPA’s rules. Several counter-suits have been filed by the State of FL, the Florida Stormwater Association, several large Florida based industries – most of them members of the Associated Industries of FL.

One thing for certain, the septic system issue is such an insignificant component of the EPA’s intentions. There was a theme that played out in last year’s legislature, that passing septic system inspection legislation would somehow stop EPA’s intervention in our state. That was an exercise in wishful thinking. Septic systems are but a blip on EPA’s radar, and rightly so. Every pie chart we’ve looked at says the same thing. We are the least of the problem, and have been saying so all along. We are simply the low-hanging fruit on a very big tree.

One fact is true. Support for funding the final Phase III of the Nutrient Reduction Study is the best and most productive effort we can make. Our environment will not be any worse than it is today by delaying inspections and interventions until this study is done. Moreover, completing the study will insure whatever we do has a basis in science and will guide actions that will actually be effective. Otherwise we will be throwing millions and millions of homeowner dollars at a fuzzy target.

Another fact is true. Property values have been in a free-fall. The uncertainty created by all the fuss over septic systems has further devalued our properties, unjustifiably. It’s the equivalent of killing a gnat with a 100 lb. sledgehammer. While there may be a few systems that need attention, this push to do SOMETHING about ALL septic systems is essentially a negative public relations campaign that does nothing to further getting the job done of helping our citizens correct whatever problems their systems might have. Recognizing the potential for devastating, and unjustifiable financial harm to Florida’s residents, at least 27 counties have filed formal resolutions with the state protesting state-wide mandates for inspections. (Read GLADES COUNTY’s recent resolution), much of that protest directed toward the DOH rule-making.

Perhaps that speaks to the real issue. So far, hysteria has prevailed and heavy hand of government regulation has set the tone. That attitude doesn’t work with kids or dogs, and it doesn’t work with citizens. What would happen if our environmentalists, bureaucrats, and legislators AND CITIZENS (who have been left out of the discussion entirely!) actually worked on a plan – a real plan to reverse septic system impacts, beginning with the most critical issues first? What would happen if people didn’t feel their homes were being threatened and were invited to participate in problem solving instead of facing the rolled up newspaper of fines, and unjustifiable rules. A whole lot of fixing could have already been done, if a helping attitude had been the starting point. So far, a whole lot of money has been spent on creating a sludge-like perception of septic systems and their owners, and little on productive use of resources.