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Community Solutions

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Alternative Approaches to Septic Tank Replacement

Florida faces challenges related to septic tanks in many communities, especially nitrogen pollution from septic tanks impacting our springs and estuaries. There are also tens of thousands of septic tanks in older neighborhoods with known public health issues, such as unsafe levels of fecal coliform. Once the decision is made by a community that septic tanks need to be replaced, what alternatives exist, and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

There are three basic approaches to the solution:

Central Sewer System

Connecting to an existing sewer collection system is probably the best option if it's nearby and there is available treatment capacity at the plant. It can be costly to extend sewer lines, and if a mandatory connection requirement is involved, the associated "social cost" may be unacceptable to the community.

Advanced Technology Septic Tanks

If central sewer is not an option, upgrading the septic tank is a possible solution, and it doesn't have a high "social cost." However, the nitrogen removal performance is only 50%, the systems are not continuously monitored or professionally operated, and the administrative costs and maintenance burden on the homeowner are high.

Distributed Wastewater Treatment System (DWTS)

The newest category of wastewater treatment, a DWTS functions like a public wastewater collection and treatment system but without the need for a connection to each customer. A DWTS achieves 80-90% nitrogen removal and has low operating costs and no maintenance burden on the homeowner. It also avoids the high capital and "social costs" associated with sewer line extensions.

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