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New Septic Tank Law: SB- 550 (effective January 1, 2011)

LAWS OF FLORIDA Chapter 2010-252 (pages 62 through 66)

5) EVALUATION AND ASSESSMENT:

(a) Beginning January 1, 2011, the department shall administer an onsite sewage treatment and disposal system evaluation program for the purpose of assessing the fundamental operational condition of systems and identifying any failures within the systems. The department shall adopt rules implementing the program standards, procedures, and requirements, including, but not limited to, a schedule for a 5-year evaluation cycle, requirements for the pump-out of a system or repair of a failing system, enforcement procedures for failure of a system owner to obtain an evaluation of the system, and failure of a contractor to timely submit evaluation results to the department and the system owner. The department shall ensure statewide implementation of the evaluation and assessment program by January 1, 2016.

(b) Owners of an onsite sewage treatment and disposal system, excluding a system that is required to obtain an operating permit, shall have the system evaluated at least once every 5 years to assess the fundamental operational condition of the system, and identify any failure within the system.

(c) All evaluation procedures must be documented and nothing in this subsection limits the amount of detail an evaluator may provide at his or her professional discretion. The evaluation must include a tank and drain field evaluation, a written assessment of the condition of the system, and, if necessary, a disclosure statement pursuant to the department’s procedure.

(d)1. Systems being evaluated that were installed prior to January 1, 1983, shall meet a minimum 6-inch separation from the bottom of the drain field to the wettest season water table elevation as defined by department rule. All drain field repairs, replacements or modifications to systems installed prior to January 1, 1983, shall meet a minimum 12-inch separation from the bottom of the drain field to the wettest season water table elevation as defined by department rule.

2. Systems being evaluated that were installed on or after January 1, 1983, shall meet a minimum 12-inch separation from the bottom of the drain field to the wettest season water table elevation as defined by department rule. All drain field repairs, replacements or modification to systems developed on or after January 1, 1983, shall meet a minimum 24-inch separation from the bottom of the drain field to the wettest season water table elevation.

(e) If documentation of a tank pump-out or a permitted new installation, repair, or modification of the system within the previous 5 years is provided, and states the capacity of the tank and indicates that the condition of the tank is not a sanitary or public health nuisance pursuant to department rule, a pump-out of the system is not required.

(f) Owners are responsible for paying the cost of any required pump-out, repair, or replacement pursuant to department rule, and may not request partial evaluation or the omission of portions of the evaluation.

(g) Each evaluation or pump-out required under this subsection must be performed by a septic tank contractor or master septic tank contractor registered under part III of chapter 489, a professional engineer with wastewater treatment system experience licensed pursuant to chapter 471, or an environmental health professional certified under chapter 381 in the area of onsite sewage treatment and disposal system evaluation.

(h) The evaluation report fee collected pursuant to s. 381.0066(2)(b) shall be remitted to the department by the evaluator at the time the report is submitted.

(i) Prior to any evaluation deadline, the department must provide a minimum of 60 days’ notice to owners that their systems must be evaluated by that deadline. The department may include a copy of any homeowner educational materials developed pursuant to this section which provides information on the proper maintenance of onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems.

(6)(5) ENFORCEMENT; RIGHT OF ENTRY; CITATIONS:

(a) Department personnel who have reason to believe noncompliance exists, may at any reasonable time, enter the premises permitted under ss. 381.0065-381.0066, or the business premises of any septic tank contractor or master septic tank contractor registered under part III of chapter 489, or any premises that the department has reason to believe is being operated or maintained not in compliance, to determine compliance with the provisions of this section, part I of chapter 386, or part III of chapter 489 or rules or standards adopted under ss. 381.0065-381.0067, part I of chapter 386, or part III of chapter 489. As used in this paragraph, the term “premises” does not include a residence or private building. To gain entry to a residence or private building, the department must obtain permission from the owner or occupant or secure an inspection warrant from a court of competent jurisdiction.

(b)1. The department may issue citations that may contain an order of correction or an order to pay a fine, or both, for violations of ss. 381.0065- 381.0067, part I of chapter 386, or part III of chapter 489 or the rules adopted by the department, when a violation of these sections or rules is enforceable by an administrative or civil remedy, or when a violation of these sections or rules is a misdemeanor of the second degree. A citation issued under ss. 381.0065-381.0067, part I of chapter 386, or part III of chapter 489 constitutes a notice of proposed agency action.

2. A citation must be in writing and must describe the particular nature of the violation, including specific reference to the provisions of law or rule allegedly violated.

3. The fines imposed by a citation issued by the department may not exceed $500 for each violation. Each day the violation exists constitutes a separate violation for which a citation may be issued.

4. The department shall inform the recipient, by written notice pursuant to ss. 120.569 and 120.57, of the right to an administrative hearing to contest the citation within 21 days after the date the citation is received. The citation must contain a conspicuous statement that if the recipient fails to pay the fine within the time allowed, or fails to appear to contest the citation after having requested a hearing, the recipient has waived the recipient’s right to contest the citation and must pay an amount up to the maximum fine.

5. The department may reduce or waive the fine imposed by the citation. In determining whether to reduce or waive the fine, the department must consider the gravity of the violation, the person’s attempts at correcting the violation, and the person’s history of previous violations including violations for which enforcement actions were taken under ss. 381.0065-381.0067, part I of chapter 386, part III of chapter 489, or other provisions of law or rule.

6. Any person who willfully refuses to sign and accept a citation issued by the department commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

7. The department, pursuant to ss. 381.0065-381.0067, part I of chapter 386, or part III of chapter 489, shall deposit any fines it collects in the county health department trust fund for use in providing services specified in those sections.

8. This section provides an alternative means of enforcing ss. 381.0065- 381.0067, part I of chapter 386, and part III of chapter 489. This section does not prohibit the department from enforcing ss. 381.0065-381.0067, part I of chapter 386, or part III of chapter 489, or its rules, by any other means. However, the department must elect to use only a single method of enforcement for each violation.

(7) LAND APPLICATION OF SEPTAGE PROHIBITED:Effective

January 1, 2016, the land application of septage from onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems is prohibited. By February 1, 2011, the department, in consultation with the Department of Environmental Protection, shall provide a report to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, recommending alternative methods to establish enhanced treatment levels for the land application of septage from onsite sewage and disposal systems. The report shall include, but is not limited to, a schedule for the reduction in land application, appropriate treatment levels, alternative methods for treatment and disposal, enhanced application site permitting requirements including any requirements for nutrient management plans, and the range of costs to local governments, affected businesses and individuals for alternative treatment and disposal methods. The report shall also include any recommendations for legislation or rule authority needed to reduce land application of septage.

Section 36. Section 381.00656, Florida Statutes, is created to read: 381.00656 Grant program for repair of onsite sewage treatment disposal systems:Effective January 1, 2012, the department shall administer a grant program to assist owners of onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems identified pursuant to s. 381.0065 or the rules adopted there under. A grant under the program may be awarded to an owner only for the purpose of inspecting, pumping, repairing, or replacing a system serving a single family residence occupied by an owner with a family income of less than or equal to 133 percent of the federal poverty level at the time of application. The department may prioritize applications for an award of grant funds based upon the severity of a system’s failure, its relative environmental impact, the income of the family, or any combination thereof. The department shall adopt rules establishing the grant application and award process, including an application form. The department shall seek to make grants in each fiscal year equal to the total amount of grant funds available, with any excess funds used for grant awards in subsequent fiscal years.

Section 37. Subsection (2) of section 381.0066, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:

381.0066 Onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems; fees: (2) The minimum fees in the following fee schedule apply until changed by rule by the department within the following limits:

(a) Application review, permit issuance, or system inspection, including repair of a subsurface, mound, filled, or other alternative system or permitting of an abandoned system: a fee of not less than $25, or more than $125.

(b) A 5-year evaluation report submitted pursuant to s. 381.0065(5): a fee not less than $15, or more than $30. At least $1 and no more than $5 collected pursuant to this paragraph shall be used to fund a grant program established under s. 381.00656.

(c)(b) Site evaluation, site reevaluation, evaluation of a system previously in use, or a per annum septage disposal site evaluation: a fee of not less than $40, or more than $115.

(d)(c) Biennial Operating permit for aerobic treatment units or performance- based treatment systems: a fee of not more than $100.

(e)(d) Annual operating permit for systems located in areas zoned for industrial manufacturing or equivalent uses or where the system is expected to receive wastewater which is not domestic in nature: a fee of not less than $150, or more than $300.

(f)(e) Innovative technology: a fee not to exceed $25,000.

(g)(f) Septage disposal service, septage stabilization facility, portable or temporary toilet service, tank manufacturer inspection: a fee of not less than $25, or more than $200, per year.

(h)(g) Application for variance: a fee of not less than $150, or more than $300.

(i)(h) Annual operating permit for waterless, incinerating, or organic waste composting toilets: a fee of not less than $50, or more than $150.

(j)(i) Aerobic treatment unit or performance-based treatment system maintenance entity permit: a fee of not less than $25, or more than $150, per year.

(k)(j) Reinspection fee per visit for site inspection after system construction approval or for noncompliant system installation per site visit: a fee of not less than $25, or more than $100.

(l)(k) Research: An additional $5 fee shall be added to each new system construction permit issued to be used to fund onsite sewage treatment and disposal system research, demonstration, and training projects. Five dollars from any repair permit fee collected under this section shall be used for funding the hands-on training centers described in s. 381.0065(3)(j). (m)(l) Annual operating permit, including annual inspection and any required sampling and laboratory analysis of effluent, for an engineer designed performance-based system: a fee of not less than $150, or more than $300.

On or before January 1, 2011, the Surgeon General, after consultation with the Revenue Estimating Conference, shall determine a revenue neutral fee schedule for services provided pursuant to s. 381.0065(5) within the parameters set in paragraph (b). Such determination is not subject to the provisions of chapter 120. The funds collected pursuant to this subsection must be deposited in a trust fund administered by the department, to be used for the purposes stated in this section and ss. 381.0065 and 381.00655.

 

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