Failing septic tanks damaging state’s environment; will cost billions of dollars to replace

https://www.sun-sentinel.com/opinion/commentary/fl-op-com-septic-tanks-20190422-story.html

Florida has roughly 2.6 million septic tanks and they are a growing threat to the state’s environment.

People don’t see the hazard, “because it is underground, it is out of sight, out of mind,” said Dr. Brian Lapointe, a research professor at Florida Atlantic University,

Lapointe launched his first septic-tank study in the mid-1980s in the Florida Keys. More and more nutrients were seeping into the water and killing the coral reefs. Sewage was a major contributor.

The growing levels of nitrogen and phosphorus fed algae that suffocated the coral, consuming oxygen and causing a “dead zone.” The state ordered central sewage collection and treatment in the Keys.

Yet, here we are more than 20 years later still addressing the problem except it’s spread to many other parts of the state. Septic tanks have become increasingly harmful partly because of sea-level rise and increased rainfall.

Florida law requires that there be a two-foot separation between the bottom of the tank’s drain field and the top of the water table. That allows for dry soil in between to absorb and treat contaminants. But because the water table is rising in parts of the state, many septic tanks aren’t working properly.

lorida has roughly 2.6 million septic tanks and they are a growing threat to the state’s environment.

People don’t see the hazard, “because it is underground, it is out of sight, out of mind,” said Dr. Brian Lapointe, a research professor at Florida Atlantic University,

Lapointe launched his first septic-tank study in the mid-1980s in the Florida Keys. More and more nutrients were seeping into the water and killing the coral reefs. Sewage was a major contributor.

The growing levels of nitrogen and phosphorus fed algae that suffocated the coral, consuming oxygen and causing a “dead zone.” The state ordered central sewage collection and treatment in the Keys.

Yet, here we are more than 20 years later still addressing the problem except it’s spread to many other parts of the state. Septic tanks have become increasingly harmful partly because of sea-level rise and increased rainfall.

Florida law requires that there be a two-foot separation between the bottom of the tank’s drain field and the top of the water table. That allows for dry soil in between to absorb and treat contaminants. But because the water table is rising in parts of the state, many septic tanks aren’t working properly.