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On January 19, 2010, Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City has sponsored HB 727 which, according to an article in the Panama City News Herald , requires inspections and pump outs at least once every five years. While inspections are generally a good idea, this bill contains language that once again can be interpreted by the Department of Health and the Fl Department of Environmental Protection and used to introduce unacceptable and unreasonable rules and pass/fail standards.

 

Click here  to read the full text of the bill and a listing of the committees that are scheduled to hold hearings on it. From the looks of things, there are several other bills being introduced in both the House and Senate on this subject. Senator Steve Olrich, R-Gainesville has introduced an identical version of the Patronis’ bill.

We hope our legislators will use committee hearings on any of these pieces of legislation to make sure that the intent of the any inspection legislation is truly reflected in the language so that we do not see a repeat of what happened with the Wekiva Parkway and Protection Act. Passing legislation that “seems” like a good idea, but does not anticipate how it will be interpreted or implemented, often ends up with vastly different outcomes and unintended consequences.

With so much at stake for homeowners, perhaps it would be prudent for any inspection legislation to restrict the scope of the mandates to making sure an old passive system meets new passive structural and functional standards for treating sewage, not nitrogen. The problem, as we see it, is the same as it was last year. Any legislation that allows bureaucracies to set performance standards for passive systems that are unachievable will automatically force homeowners to install mini-municipal wastewater treatment plants, i.e. performance-based treatment systems, in their yards. PBTS is not a septic solution that homeowners can live with. The objections to these are many, and quite valid. Last years’ Sludge Reports reported on these objections in detail.

The studies on enhanced passive technologies approved and funded by the legislature are not yet completed. Beyond that, according to the most recent TRAP committee meeting, at least another two years of information and field testing data needs to be gathered before any valid decisions can be made about advanced treatment. We encourage the legislature to make sure that the good that can come from inspecting septic systems does not open the door to unfair and unfounded standards and rules.

 

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