Individual bills to repeal a septic tank inspection mandate to protect springs and lakes may have failed this year, but the inspections won’t be starting any time soon.
Tucked inside a budget bill is language prohibiting the Department of Health from starting the inspections. Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, who opposed the inspection mandate and is slated to succeed Senate President Mike Haridopolos as Senate President, inserted language to stop the inspections from taking place. To move forward, the Department of Heath would have to receive permission from the Legislative Budget Commission, of which Gaetz is a member.
Gaetz said in a press release that the he believes this will stall the inspection process for another year until the Legislature can secure the votes for a full repeal.
“In my view, the septic tank mandate is an unnecessary policy,” Gaetz said. “It wrongly assumes that rural North Florida ought to be treated the same as heavily populated urban South Florida.”
The septic tank mandate was just passed a year ago in an effort to protect the state’s endangered springs and lakes. The bill was pushed by former state Sen. Lee Constantine, R-Altamonte Springs, as part of his effort to protect the headwaters of Central Florida’s Wekiva Spring and river.
But residents in the Panhandle, where septic tanks are prevalent, protested the cost and the need for inspections.