Water-Related News

Septic waste disposal rule changing; effects on Polk unknown

Land disposal ban takes effect to reduce water pollution

LAKELAND — New rules regulating septic tank waste disposal take effect July 1, but it's unclear whether Polk's approximately 120,000 septic tank owners will notice any changes.

The change will ban land disposal at current Department of Health-approved sites, the traditional method of getting rid of the waste, and push septic tank companies to either apply for a permit at a site regulated by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection or to dispose of the waste at a sewer plant or a landfill.

Kevin King, environmental supervisor for septic tank permitting at the Polk County Health Department, said septic tanks companies can apply for a temporary variance to continue current operations until July 1, 2017, to give them time to get a DEP permit or make other arrangements.

Septic tanks are widely used to treat human waste in areas where central sewer service is unavailable or unaffordable. They are common in unincorporated areas of Polk County and in smaller cities that never developed a central sewer collection system and treatment plant.

Local companies have reacted to the new rules in different ways.