Septic Tanks On Columbia Co. Commission Meeting

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Tonight, June 21, 2018, there is an important issue at the Columbia Co. commissioners’ meeting, 5:30 at Columbia County School Board Administrative Complex Auditorium, 372 West Duval Street, Lake City, Florida 32055.

The following article by Carl McKinney in the Lake City Reporter today explains the issue.  As mentioned below, a representative from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection will be there to answer questions.

Come to the meeting to find out more.

Our thanks to Robert Bridges of the Lake City Reporter for special permission to use this article.

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


Septic tanks on hot seat at county

DEP rep will attend BOCC meeting today to explain new rules.


New state septic tank regulations will soon be in effect, and they could cost homeowners thousands of dollars. Starting July 1, only nitrogen-reducing septic tanks can be installed at homes on lots smaller than one acre within special areas, a move intended to prevent harmful nitrates from seeping into the water supply.

A representative from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection will go before the Columbia County Commission this afternoon to outline the new rules established by the Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act, which the state legislature passed in 2016.

The guidelines are dense, said Koby Adams, aid to Lake City-based Republican state Rep. Elizabeth Porter, who represents District 10. “I’ve got about an inch-thick stack of documents here,” he said.

Adams said he’s waiting on DEP officials to clarify the rules. Realtors and home-building contractors are perhaps the two groups most eagerly awaiting answers, he said. County Manager Ben Scott said the new standard of septic tanks are estimated to be anywhere from $8,000 to $15,000 more expensive than a standard $3,500 system.

The rules only apply to homes within a Priority Focus Area established by the legislation. Excessive nitrate pollution promotes runaway algae growth, which threatens underwater life, according to the Suwannee River Water Management District.

There have been documented cases of infant death and serious illness due to excessive nitrate levels in drinking water, according to the DEP website.



  1. A very important issue indeed. But the EPA hasn’t addressed the CAFO’s as they have mucho money to pay the fines. Why fix a polluting problem that will cost the CAFO’s big money they just pay the fines and keep on keeping on. I think the EPA needs to get some GUTS and not let foreign country owned CAFO’s control them. Yeh pick on the little people hold them under their thumb until…………

    Seems as the candidate running for commission post own’s a septic tank company. I would hate to think a county commissioner would stoop so low as to get an EPA rep. to support their business.

    We all know how they gave up trying to stop the back yard chicken coop controlled by a Brazilin company. We all know about the polluting processing plant dumping into the river as the story right here.
    I think the U.S.A. government EPA paid by our tax money needs to focus on the mega polluters and prove they are not AFRAID to stand up to the poluters and shut them DOWN until polluting is stopped completely. But we know money is more important than out health.

  2. The world and our environment is changing drastically and fast. We must accept the fact that the rules must change as well even if it means paying more for the protection of the 1 %of fresh water that sustains our very existence.

  3. It’s puzzling that the Santa Fe Basin BMAP gets toothy only with septic tanks on lots less than one acre, when the whole “septic” category ranges from 2%-14% of the groundwater loading in the Priority Focus Areas. Meanwhile, “agriculture and livestock waste” amount to between 56% and 78% of the nutrient loading in the basin, and are subjected only to voluntary Best Management Practices. The state should be mandating Best Management Practices, and should be financially supporting the farmers in their implementation.

    1. Within a BMAP, the BMPs are indeed mandatory unless the landowner chooses to implement a monitoring program to prove that he/she is not contributing to the TMDL exceedence. The monitoring program would be an extremely expensive route and thus far, no landowners statewide have chosen this option.

      1. Charles, did you not write yesterday that we have only 58% sign-up? If mandatory, why not 100%? I think Mike is talking about BMAPs, not the BMPs within.

        1. I said that 58% of the farmland (not farms) is in signed up in the BMP program. The FDEP and FDACS takes the County Property Appraiser data that he/she has indicated as ‘agriculture’ and that is the data set that the 58% is pulled from. Two routes are taken from here:
          1) There is likely some additional farmland that has yet to implement BMPs. Historically, this tends to be very small operations that just don’t stay on top of current rules and regulations. The five acre piece with a small home and someone growing for the farmers market is an example. These people are very hard to get on board as they don’t typically belong to organizations such as Farm Bureau and … well, just tend to be out-of-touch. Ultimately, what has happened elsewhere and will happen here is FDACS will be sending out letters (certified? .. I don’t remember). After several attempts, they are turned over to FDEP who has the authority to impose fines.
          2) There are unfortunately a LOT of people that abuse the Agricultural Property Tax Assessment (“Greenbelt”). These people are NOT farmers (even part-time) but because they have a parcel that the Property Appraiser has deemed to be bona-fied agriculture, it is determined to be Ag. Many of these parcels have no activity taking place on them at all. We continually try our hardest to get these properties off of the Greenbelt list as it is an abuse of our tax structure and it waters down the Ag Assessment program altogether (at the expense of the county tax base). As these parcels are property assessed, the agricultural acreage number will go down reducing our percentage of FDEP’s BMAP “pie” while also increasing the percentage of actual agricultural parcels that are within the BMP program (raising the 58%).

          1. In my last sentence, I meant to say “properly assessed”, not “property assessed”.

  4. I guess Mr. Koby Adams, a government employed aid, is TOO BUSY to read a one inch report?? Or can’t read ?? Guess what, this is an important issue, and requires many pages to explain. REP. Elizabeth Porter needs to hire someone who can read, or hire a professional to educate her staff, since they can not get the job done!!

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