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Dan Peterson: Cleaning up septic systems shouldn’t be so costly

septics photo In: Dan Peterson: Cleaning up septic systems shouldn’t be so costly | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River

We are back to our perennial problem:

The answer to the septic-system dilemma will remain complex and costly as long as legislators choose to ignore facts and information.

The dilemma is our leadership void in Tallahassee and that corporations run our state/nation.

Read the original article here in the Gainesville Sun.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-

Dan Peterson: Cleaning up septic systems shouldn’t be so costly

By Dan Peterson / Special to The Sun

The topic of excessive nitrogen from septic systems being responsible for polluting Florida’s springs has been discussed and debated for more than a decade. Government representatives keep saying there are only two solutions — and both truly are complex and costly.

Prior to and during the last legislative session, the Coalition for Property Rights visited and hand-delivered information to no less than 25 legislators and the governor’s office about innovative nitrogen-reducing septic system products. In some cases, multiple visits were made to legislators’ offices. The information evidently ended up in a black hole.

Why should legislators fret over how to fix this problem and worry about how to pay for it when answers have been presented to them? The answer to the septic-system dilemma will remain complex and costly as long as legislators choose to ignore facts and information.

There are solutions to this dilemma which are being ignored by government leaders. These solutions are more simple and less expensive than the “solutions” they prefer to debate.

Septic-to-sewer conversion may be one solution. But many wastewater treatment plants and their sewer pipes are already aged or have limited capacity.


LIMIT THE USE of fertilizers and pesticides in your environment. Remember that because of our Karst Topography, chemicals used on your lawn and garden can drain quickly into our aquifer and then flow back up into our springs and rivers. Click here for more ideas.

Adding more septic system waste will push them beyond their capacity to carry and treat waste, threatening the environment with releases of raw sewage as happened in St. Petersburg. In an 18-month period, its old and overburdened sewage system released more than 200 million gallons of raw and partially treated sewage into Tampa Bay.

Replacing traditional septic systems with so-called “advanced systems” offers little help because they do not reduce much more nitrogen than their properly maintained traditional predecessors, and they require electricity to operate. Such systems are tested under artificial conditions in laboratories. But studies show in real-life conditions they reduce much less nitrogen than advertised and frequently break down.

For more than 10 years, innovative technologies have been known to state agency leaders. These innovative technologies modify the septic system drainfields to reduce nitrogen rather than modifying the septic tanks such as the “advanced systems” do.

Such new, nitrogen-reducing products reduce up to 90 percent of the nitrogen without the use of electricity. And they cost much less than the “advanced systems” being mandated by government. Yet, such technologies have been prevented from being permitted for use in Florida.

In a cost comparative study (visit, the Coalition for Property Rights found that the 20-year cost to a homeowner using an “advanced system” is approximately $87,000. Using innovative drainfield technology, the 20-year cost would be approximately $16,000. And the nitrogen reduction would be much greater using innovative, non-electric technology.

Wouldn’t it be nice to take this issue off the table by pursuing real, nitrogen-reducing solutions that would benefit the environment, the homeowner and the state budget? Imagine the benefit to our state and the environment if tens of millions of tax dollars could be focused on fixing bigger problems like upgrading wastewater treatment plants and remediating ancient sewer pipes.

The real question is, “Why has government prevented these nitrogen-reducing technologies from being used for septic system remediation?” Could it be that special interests want to stop growth? Could it be someone has a product to sell and they want to corner the market?

In the next 10 years, Florida’s population is projected to grow by another 6 million to 8 million people. Allowing innovative nitrogen-reducing technologies to compete in our state would be better for the environment, more affordable to the homeowner, better for the state budget, better for Florida’s future.

Dan Peterson is president of the Coalition for Property Rights-Florida.

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for printing the article written by Dan Peterson, Pres., Coalition for Property Rights – Florida. I am also pleased to learn about the Coalition for Property Rights – Florida and their website.

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