Orange County Utilities COVID-19 Wastewater Sampling Program

Septic systems can provide safe, cost-effective wastewater treatment options where centralized sewer systems are not available. With over 85,000 septic tanks in Orange County, a workgroup was created to evaluate the environmental impact and appropriate use of conventional septic systems. The Septic Tank Workgroup is a collaboration between county staff and the Florida Department of Health with subgroups focused on:

  • New Development
    • Connections to Central Sewer
    • Septic Tank Standards and Permitting

  • Existing Systems
    • Septic to Sewer Connections
    • Septic Tank Upgrades

Background

The statewide approach to restore and protect Florida's water quality led to the 2016 Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act, the adoption of the Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs), and designated Wekiwa Priority Focus Area (PFA) within the Wekiwa and Rock Springs BMAP. The State of Florida also developed rules and regulations regarding septic systems in designated areas:

Wekiwa PFA

  • All new septic systems on lots ≤ 1 acre must be enhanced systems (minimum 65% nitrogen reduction).
  • Repairs to conventional systems will not be permitted based on an enforcement timeline that will be determined by the state.

Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs) and Pollution Reduction Plan (PRP)

  • As of July 1, 2023, all new septic systems on lots ≤ 1 acre must be enhanced systems (minimum 65% nitrogen reduction).

Reasons to Address Septic Systems

graphic diagram of a drain field

Septic systems may impact water bodies by releasing excess nutrients that reduce the diversity of plants and animals and lead to fish kills. This may be the case in Orange County zones considered vulnerable to contamination, specifically the Wekiwa PFA and proposed County Priority Vulnerability Areas (PVAs).

Septic systems may impact water bodies by releasing excess nutrients that reduce the diversity of plants and animals and lead to fish kills.

Identifying Vulnerable Areas

A groundwater vulnerability assessment completed in 2023:

  • Mapped areas where groundwater is vulnerable to contamination
  • Identified subdivisions with high densities of septic tanks
  • Derived capture zones for water bodies of interest
  • Evaluated septic system setbacks from water bodies

This report identified 65 Priority Vulnerability Areas (PVAs).

Orange County map
FIND OUT IF YOUR PROPERTY IS LOCATED IN A PFA, PVA, BMAP OR PRP
Street address only info imagee.g. 201 S Rosalind Ave
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kayaker floating down a river

PROPOSED POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

The Workgroup is proposing county policy changes
for new development in vulnerable areas.
These include:

  • Increase sewer connection requirements
    (PFA and PVAs):
    • Connect to force main for single-family residential and low-flow commercial properties.
    • Increase pipeline extension criteria from 100 feet to 600 feet for higher residential and commercial flows.
  • Require enhanced systems (minimum 65% nitrogen reduction) when sewer is not available on lots ≤ 1 acre
    in PVAs.
  • Require more enhanced systems (80% nitrogen reduction) if less than 150-foot setback to any water body.

LOOKING AHEAD

  • May 21, 2024 - BCC Discussion
  • Summer 2024 - BCC Work Session
  • Fall 2024 - Public Hearings

CONTACT US

For questions, please email SepticTankWorkgroup@ocfl.net.