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Water-Related News

Given the option, all 19 counties vote not to inspect septic tanks

By Bruce Ritchie

All 19 counties that were required to take action on septic tank inspections under a bill passed by the Legislature last spring have voted to opt out of the requirement, according to the Florida Department of Health.

HB 1263, a Department of Health reorganization bill, required the 19 counties with first-magnitude springs that discharge more than 64 million gallons of water daily to have septic tank inspection programs or vote to opt out by Jan. 1. More than half of the counties had opted out by August.

The inspection requirement passed the Legislature in 2010 as part of SB 550, which supporters described as a bill to protect groundwater and help Florida's springs.

Scientists say springs have become choked with weeds and algae because of nitrogen in groundwater from a variety of sources including septic tanks. But the inspection requirement led to a backlash from rural residents and some tea party supporters.