A few months ago, a Sludge Report article expressed sincere upset that before any investigation was even begun as to the cause for the tragic deaths of dolphins and other wildlife in the Indian River Lagoon, the finger of blame was immediately pointed at septic systems. This recently published article gives common sense and some semblance of science to the issue. Please note the scientist quoted in this article tested 16 sites and our own Bureau of On-Site Sewage tested only THREE and used those three to start this entire controversy. In fact, more than ten years ago, a rather in-depth study of septic systems near the Indian River Lagoon showed the systems had little or no impact on the water quality in and near the river. Similar findings were reported about systems along the Suwannee River. Both studies are archived in the Dept. of Health, Bureau of On-Site Sewage research database.
Bottom line – properly functioning systems are not a threat of any significance. Even the EPA agrees with that. Common sense says fix what’s broken. Common financial sense says don’t waste money on solutions that are not needed.
Here are excerpts from the above mentioned article:
Septic tanks not bad after all? May not be lagoon’s ‘smoking gun’
Florida Tech scientist thinks drainage may not be lagoon pollution’s ‘smoking gun’ – The original article was published on Feb. 13, 2014 at 6:08 PM in Florida Today.
Septic tanks may not be as big a villain in the Indian River Lagoon’s demise as previously thought, according to a Florida Tech scientist. But liquid fertilizers, yard runoff, muck, manatees, raccoons and other wildlife could be inflicting a much more significant toll.
“I don’t think that septic tanks are the smoking gun that everybody thinks they are,” Tom Belanger, an environmental scientist at Florida Tech, said at a seminar Wednesday at the university.
Belanger is one of the keynote speakers tonight at a lagoon forum — titled “What we know and what we don’t know” — at Front Street Civic Center in Melbourne.
Belanger studies how nutrients flow from septic tank drain fields to nearby waters. There is conflicting science on the scope of septic tanks’ role in the lagoon’s pollution problems. Research by Belanger and his colleagues at Florida Tech found properly functioning tanks probably aren’t as significant a source of nitrogen, phosphorus and fecal coliform bacteria as many had previously thought.
Belanger’s studies included 16 sampling sites along the lagoon. He looked at properly functioning tanks. “Failing systems are another story,” Belanger said.
Studies funded by the St. Johns River Water Management District have found that septic tanks do a fairly good job treating human waste, as long as they’re properly maintained.
New Legislative Session, New Bill on the Horizon, New Tactics, Same Old Song
We have not reported in depth on this bill, but we are tracking it very closely. So far the bill has been revised seven times!! You may read the most recently floated version of this 43-page proposed bill, and yes, your eyes will glaze over at its complexity, its assumptions, and its far-reaching impact on the state’s financial resources, not to mention yours. (The link to this bill is listed in the “Resources” at the bottom of the page.)
It’s nothing short of amazing how fixated the environmental community is on septic systems….so much so, that they totally ignore the obvious and alarming state of the sewer infrastructure which is crumbling and failing at an alarming rate…causing huge quality issues. The fixation on our septic systems is misplaced. The bill diverts hundreds of millions of dollars to septic system solutions that hold little promise of results. You have to wonder why all this focus on septic systems. Surely, if the science existed to support the fixation it would have been presented by now.
After reading this bill, you may want to send your comments to your state representative, your state senator, and to the bill’s sponsor, Senator David Simmons.
Contact information for Senator David Simmons:
Home Office: 407.262-7578 Tallahassee Office: 850.487.5010