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Every year, more than 90 companies across Florida pump the waste from about 100,000 septic tanks. Where does it all end up? State officials estimate 40 million gallons of it is treated with lime and then sprayed on farmers’ fields as fertilizer.
But the septic tank waste is a potential wellspring of disease and can lead to water pollution and toxic algae blooms. So last year, the Legislature voted to ban the practice known as “land application” starting in 2016, and in the meantime ordered state health officials to look for alternatives.
This year, though, water pollution and the spread of disease are far less of a political concern, and the probusiness Legislature is poised to repeal the ban before it even takes effect.
The House passed HB 1479, which lifts the ban, by a vote of 89-25 on Monday despite strong opposition from environmental groups such as Audubon of Florida.
During Monday’s debate, one lawmaker, Rep. Bryan Nelson, R-Apopka, urged his colleagues to repeal the ban because keeping it in place would drive up the cost of disposal, which he compared to imposing a tax on people with septic tanks. Audubon’s Eric Draper called that bizarre reasoning for rejecting a measure designed to clean up the state’s most widespread pollution problem.