Florida Septic Tank Regulations play an important part in protecting our drinking water. With 90% of Florida’s potable water supplied through ground water, it is imperative septic systems be properly designed, installed, and maintained to protect this natural resource.
Septic tank systems in Florida, otherwise known as onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems (OSTDS), are an effective and safe means of disposing wastewater for about 30% of Florida’s population. There are estimated to be around 2.6 million septic tank systems in operation through this state alone, with Florida accounting for 12 percent of all the systems currently in use throughout the United States.
The inspection and permitting of septic systems are handled by the Environmental Health Section of Florida’s Department of Health for each county. This entity provides laws and guidelines in place that help to protect citizens from the numerous hazards that could arise from operating privately owned septic tank systems.
This article provides an overview of general Florida Septic Tank Regulations. For specific information on Lake County please read How To Obtain A Septic System in Lake County, FL
Florida Septic Tank Regulations and Rules
Currently, all oversite related to the installation, repair, operation, or alterations of onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems are handled by the Florida Department of Health. When the disposal of quantities exceeds 5000 gallons per day, then the matter is handled by the Florida Department of Environment Protection (DEP). This amount of wastewater is usually representative of a very large corporation, as homeowners dispose of far less, using somewhere between 50 and 100 gallons of water per a day.
License Requirements for Septic Tank Contractors
Anyone practicing septic tank contracting in Florida must be registered and approved by the State of Florida. This provides statewide training for any new installations or repairs of septic systems in Florida. Once licensed with the DOH, registration must be renewed annually.
You can search for approved Florida septic tank contractors here.
The Installation of a New Septic System
Before any septic system can be installed on a property, an application must be submitted to the Department of Health.
These application packets are available from the DOH and include guidelines for submitting the request. Required fees are also outlined in the application packet. The homeowner must then submit the completed application as well as soil/percolation tests and sit plans to the Health Department in their county.
Placement of Sewage Treatment Disposal Systems
In accordance with the regulations that are set forth by the Florida Department of Health (DOH) for each county in Florida, the onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems must be placed with the following considerations to avoid groundwater damage:
• The OSTDS needs to be placed at least 75 feet from any bays, lakes, surface water, multi-family water wells, or private portable wells.
• In the event that you have a non-potable well, then the onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems need to be placed at least 50 feet away.
• The OSTDS can only be placed 10 feet from any storm water pipes.
• The system has to be placed 11 feet from any water storage tanks that come in contact with potable or ground water unless lines are properly sealed with waterproof sealants in a sleeve of similar pipe material that is at least 10 feet from the closest portion of that system. When the water line is inside the sleeve of sealant material, the water line can not come within 24 inches of the onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems. Back-flow or check valves must be installed within 24 inches of the water system to prevent any contamination.
• The septic system needs to be at least 200 feet from any public potable wells that are currently being used to service non-residential or residential establishments that have a greater total daily sewage flow of 2,000 gallons or more.
• The OSTDS is not allowed to be placed under any buildings. The onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems can only be placed five feet from mobile home walls, building foundations, property lines, or swimming pools. The location can not contain underground utilities or have recorded easements that service more than one lot.
• The onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems needs to be 15 feet from a normally dry drainage ditch or storm water retention area.
• There are special standards that will apply to any placement of an OSTDS in limestone soil.
• The size of the drain field and the septic tank is prescribed by the rules that list that the minimum tank size for every residence or building. These size regulations are based solely on waste amounts the FDOH estimates that the building or residence will generate. The characteristics and size of that land where the tank and drain field will be installed must abide by the rules that state the land needs to be at a minimum of twice the size of that drain field.
• Only new fill soil can be installed with mounded septic tank systems or to replace any unsatisfactory soils currently in the ground.
• The OSTDS needs to be placed 75 feet from the annual flood line of any permanent non-tidal surface water body.
• The onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems should be placed 15 feet from design high-water lines of detentions areas, swales, or retention areas which are solely designed to contain flowing or standing waters for less than 72 hours after any rainfall.
• The onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems must be placed 75 feet from the high-water line of any tidal surface water body.
• Land use zoning of any area where an onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems will be installed is crucial. When areas are only designated for manufacturing or industry zoning, then the FDOH is responsible to closely monitor the process, so no hazardous or toxic wasters are received.
• The OSTDS needs to be properly placed at least 15 feet from any groundwater interceptor drain.
Important Note: This is an overview of important requirements. For full details you can contact your local County office and download the Florida Septic Statute Codes (FS 381.0065 – Chapter 64E-6).
Information on Reporting Sewage Issues
When you are aware of any wastewater or environmental concerns brought on by the onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems, immediately contact the Bureau of Onsite Sewage Programs.
Bureau of Environmental Health, Onsite Programs
4052 Bald Cypress Way, Bin A-08
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1710
Depending on where you live in the state of Florida, all complaints and concerns are handled by county health authorities.