New funding promotes septic tank replacement for homes
MAITLAND — Knowing that septic tanks have been identified as one of the reasons for declining water quality in Florida’s springsheds, the St. Johns River Water Management District is working with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and local governments to fund their removal.
The new funding targets the removal of septic tanks in the Volusia Blue, Wekiwa and Silver springsheds, replacing them with individual distributed wastewater treatment systems (IDWTS) in areas where sewer line extensions may not exist or be financially feasible. The IDWTS is an inground, stand-alone residential wastewater treatment system. The system connects to the existing wastewater lines and drainfield. Its performance is monitored remotely by the local government or utility.
DEP provided funding of $1 million to match a contribution of $500,000 from the district and $500,000 from local governments or utilities. With this funding, it’s expected that approximately 200 existing septic tanks from single family residences will be replaced, with an estimated reduction in nitrogen loading to the springs of about 10 to 23 pounds per year per tank, depending on location and soil type.
A pilot project using the technology was installed at the district’s Lake Apopka Field Station in Lake County in July 2017. Samples collected before and after installation indicated total nitrogen removal efficiency of 86 percent one week after installation, and up to 98 percent removal at the end of the 8-week sampling period.