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Votes were 7 Yea, 0 Nay and SB 820 passes the septic system inspection bill on to the next step toward passage. Coalition for Property Rights partners with TRI-County Association H.E.L.P. to advocate for inspection bill. PBTS in the Keys a dismal treatment “performance.”

January 9, 2012 – The Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee met on Monday, the day before the opening of 2012 Legislative Session to consider a strike-all amendment to Senate Bill 820 which was filed by Senator Dean several weeks ago. The strike all amendment repealed the septic system inspection mandate put in place when SB 550 was passed in 2010. The amendment also changed SB 820’s proposed inspection program so that it more closely matched the program outlined in HB 999. Several of the Senators on the EP Committee commented that the amended version of SB820 demonstrated that fair and balanced legislation can be reached through deliberation and debate.

One amendment to the new bill was presented and passed. The bill originally said counties with a First Magnitude Spring would be able to opt-out of the inspection with a simple majority vote of the county’s governing body. With the amendment, counties can opt-out only if the vote is a majority plus one. In other words, a county cannot vote to opt-out of the inspection program unless they can muster a “super” majority. There are six privately owned First Magnitude Springs in Florida. The remaining springs are in government control, either state or federal, or a combination of government/private ownership.

The bill now moves to the Senate Health Regulation Committee and then to the Senate Budget Committee. We will be monitoring the progress of this bill, which is now identified as CS SB 820 (Committee Substitute Senate Bill 820). Go to and click on “Bills” to access the actual text of the bill, committee hearing dates, etc.

NOTE 1: If you e-mailed the Environmental Committee members asking for their support of the amended SB 820, please take a minute to send each Senator on the committee a note of thanks for their positive vote.

NOTE 2: Click here to read TRI-County Association’s letter to all the Committee Members supporting the “strike-all” amendment to Senator Dean’s SB 820. This letter was included in the Committee Packet.

Florida Association of Realtors, Florida Homebuilders Association, and Associated Industries of Florida also spoke in support of passage of CS SB 820. Thanks to all.

CPR Coalition for Property Rights helps septic owners breathe easier!

Just a little pun, of course. But, all septic owners across the state need to say ‘THANK YOU” to this organization and to Dan Peterson, Executive Director of CPR for taking on our issue as one of the organization’s top legislative priorities for this session. Yesterday, at the Senate Environmental Committee meeting, the CPR gave their full supports to Senator Dean’s CS SB 820, and presented a message of support for the bill on behalf of TRI-County Association H.E.L.P. Dan is a member of TRI-County’s Board of Advisors.

Coalition for Property Rights is a nationally recognized and respected property rights advocate involving itself in eminent domain issues and other causes that compromise or threaten one of the cornerstones of the Constitution. The organization counts many state-wide individuals, business, and organizations as members and supporters. CPR has followed the septic system issue for several years and has provided valuable guidance to TRI-County Association as the homeowner group works toward their goals of protecting homeowner property rights and simultaneously promoting sound environmental policy and legislation. THANKS, DAN!!


Because of its unique geology and sensitive ecology, the Keys were designated as an area of special concern. One of the steps taken to protect the Keys environment was to convert septic owners to either sewers or performance based treatment systems.

The Research Review and Advisory Committee (RRAC) got a fresh report from the Bureau of On-Site Sewage. The subject was the “performance” of Performance Based Treatment Systems (PBTS) in the Keys. This is the same type of septic system that was almost mandated by the Bureau’s rulemaking for the Wekiva Study Area, and the same type of system that four years ago sparked the homeowner revolt against PBTS.

A few years ago, the Bureau published a report that said, PBTS would be necessary in the Wekiva Area for a couple of reasons:

1. They could be easily tested for compliance in meeting nutrient and bacteria standards.
2. They would be the only solution if nutrient standards were very stringent.
Well, the results of this new report presented to RRAC don’t seem to live up to the advertisement. 50% of the systems are presenting major maintenance issues regarding chlorination to prevent bacterial pollution. There are major issues determining the level of maintenance required for the systems to properly treat effluent. As far as nitrogen removal is concerned, 50% are either failing to perform at all or performing inconsistently.

RRAC heard from the bureau that there was real difficulty determining effectiveness with mere grab samples, and wants to conduct a much bigger, broader study. So much for ease of testing for compliance. Maybe, this this one of those times that testing is repeated and repeated until the results are acceptable.

Ironic, that the bureau considers grab samples insufficient to get reliable tests for nitrogen in the Keys, but considers three grab samples in the Wekiva Area sufficient to blame septic systems for nitrogen in the Wekiva River. Just saying.

It’s unfortunate residents in the Keys had to be the lab rats. In our opinion, there was already enough evidence and research to show PBTS would not work as advertised, and National Science lab certification was not the same as real world certification. It doesn’t feel good to be right when people in the Keys are living with and paying handsomely for such dismal results.