Make up your mind, Florida!

If homeowners want to keep their onsite systems, agree to periodic inspections

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In a recent story at the Charlotte County Florida Weekly website, local residents complained about a plan to move 2,500 homes using septic systems to municipal sewer service. They argued that municipal sewer service would become an onerous expense as users would have to pay higher property taxes every year and higher monthly bills for handling household waste. They said many homeowners in Central Florida are retired people on a fixed income for whom this would be a huge burden.

They further argued onsite systems provide a sound solution to properly handling waste, going as far as to say that the decentralized systems are less of a threat to the environment than a leaking municipal sewer line would be.

However, this is the same state where homeowners have been doing everything in their power to stop laws that would require periodic inspections of septic systems in areas with sensitive environments. County after county – led by its elected representatives – has rejected any effort to identify aging systems that need replacing. Like the homeowners in Charlotte County fighting the new sewer line, many Florida residents have said they can’t afford to pay for septic system inspections and necessary repairs.

I have one thing to say: Make up your mind! If you want to keep using septic systems, support commonsense inspection standards and commit to repairing or replacing failing systems. This is the right thing to do to ensure onsite systems are seen as an environmentally sound disposal practice.

If you don’t want to ensure septic systems protect Florida’s fragile groundwater supply and ecosystem, agree to pony up the money for a municipal sewer service that will. Then stop complaining.

In the past I have expressed dismay over Floridians who on one hand want to support clean water, but resist efforts to guarantee it through mandatory septic system inspections done at a reasonable interval.

These Charlotte County residents are right in saying onsite systems are a suitable wastewater solution in many cases. But you have to put a program in place that makes sure they are working properly. Failure to do so will result in a growing general belief that sewer systems are the only environmentally sound answer.

The bottom line is that ensuring effective wastewater treatment costs money. It’s not free. Floridians currently using septic systems must decide whether they’d rather pay to maintain their own system or pay a public treatment facility to collect their waste on a monthly basis.

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