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Septic-to-Sewer: Protecting Florida’s Ground and Surface Water

From the early days on the edge of the Tigris and Euphrates River to now, water has long been a staple of civilization. As discussed in the Florida TaxWatch report “We Can’t Wait on Water” (January 2020), Florida relies upon high-quality water to maintain the well-being of public health, ecosystem services, recreation, property values, and economic activities, such as fishing, boating, sailing, and other water-based tourism. But Florida’s water quality is at risk.

Septic tanks are impairing the state’s water resources. Even when working properly, septic tanks inundate groundwater with heavy nutrients. An excess of certain nutrients, specifically nitrogen, encourages the growth of algal blooms on rivers and lakes and degrades the quality of groundwater to levels unsuitable for drinking, consumption, and direct public use.

Florida communities are already looking to the state for answers. In March 2023, Florida TaxWatch reviewed the funding allocated to water-related grant programs. Since FY 2021, $941 million has been allocated to the Wastewater Grant Program, which is used to update septic tanks or connect properties to centralized sewers.


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