Keep calm and put your thinking cap on: Septic Tank Eve. Let’s be environmentally creative.

Keep calm and put your thinking cap on: Septic Tank Eve. Let’s be environmentally creative.

As you all know we are invited to the chambers of the Martin County Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday Nov 3 to hear about this subject from Dr Brian Lapointe.

So a few things before.

I did a search of TC and did not come up with one page that had any kind of education. I did the same search with Martin County Commissioners and came up with the same thing. This has been an issue for a long time and we’ve now gone to living life as usual to mandatory sewage.

This was the latest from TC Palm

http://www.tcpalm.com/news/indian-river-lagoon/health/investigation-move-over-fertilizer-septic-tank-drainage-also-contaminating-indian-river-lagoon-ep-37-332670631.html

“Despite growing evidence that septic tanks play a role in the lagoon’s degradation, most elected leaders are hesitant to tackle this part of the problem, largely because many property owners oppose increased septic regulations, a Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers investigation found.

Some scientists and regulatory agencies point to fertilizers as the main source of the nutrient runoff generating heavy algae in the lagoon. But Harbor Branch professor Brian LaPointe believes sewage carries more of the nutrients spurring algae growth.”

He has said this before in many situations. He could be right and he could be wrong but I’m not understanding a few things.”

Why did Martin County Commission go from white to black (or brown I guess) overnight? What happened?

“It’s really unclear how much fertilizer is reaching the lagoon,” LaPointe said. “But one septic tank on 4 acres — that’s enough to create a nutrient problem.”

Algal blooms block sunlight that sea grass needs to thrive. As the algae decompose, they deplete oxygen, which can suffocate sea grass and fish, turning clear, biodiverse waters into a murky dead zone.”

So this is when I say really are you kidding me?

Because we all  know we do not get algae blooms unless we are having discharges.

DSC_0038 DSC_0032 DSC_0031

And why all of sudden is the newspaper so eager to be the mouth piece of Dr Brian Lapointe?

There are a lot of septic tanks. We have the least in Martin County.

“Indian River County: 37,000, roughly half issued before 1983. Of the 900 systems on the barrier island — where they’re more likely to be near waterways — 747 are more than 30 years old

St. Lucie County: 45,000, about 18,000 date back before 1983

Martin County: 40,000, officials didn’t know how many predate 1983″

There are about 120,000 septic systems on the Treasure Coast, the newspaper investigation found. As many as half were installed before stricter regulations were enacted in 1983, making them more likely to drain sewage into groundwater that ends up in the lagoon, according to data from the counties and Harbor Branch.”

But there is so more much! All the stuff that comes from Lake Okeechobee that destroys us with changing the salinity of water. Killing our oysters. Killing the seagrass.

I got some great responses from my friends all who have really good points. Actually better points than Dr Lapointe who only answer is costly septic. Dr Lapointe in fact in all this time has never suggested any kind of education and in fact his remark about paying to live in Paradise went to the hearts of many citizens of Martin County.

My friend Robert said:

‪‬” I frequently find myself in complete agreement with you on environmental issues. This is not one. The problem with septic tanks is that they do work when used mindfully by people who have them properly pumped out and regularly inspected. But that’s the ideal, not the typical situation at all.

Poorly maintained and carelessly used septic systems are a major source of freshwater contamination. The problem is not limited to trailer parks and older homes either. It is a problem that is underground. Out of sight, out of mind. Not at the very least rejecting new building permits where municipal sewer connection is not part of the plan should be sop for all approvals. There should be no, I repeat, zero, variance for rural areas. We are not actually running out of water, we are running out drinkable water. All other issues should be treated with the same standard. Best practices in all sectors, housing, industry, agriculture and anything else contributing to the pollution in our water, soil and air. Now, not in twenty years.”

Actually i think we agree. We have different roads to get there.

He has point. But the point brings me back to what is the best way to manage these? Pump out is an issue and many people can’t afford it. Many people live on 800-1000 bucks a month and 200 dollars for a pump out means they do not eat. That’s not counting  the BS you get when these guys show up trying to get you to spend a fortune. Just pump out my tank please.

See the issue is when you slice open a nasty wound pus usually comes out. This is the unwanted pus.

Where is the education on how to maintain the septics?

Strangely enough there is a Martin County in Minnesota and they did just that.

http://www.co.martin.mn.us/index.php/septic-systems

They have a septic system owners guide from the University of Minnesota.

http://septic.umn.edu/owners/index.htm

and you can own it for 5 bucks.

Cool Beans.

So, maybe while we’re waiting to hash all this out this answer to the question is not lawsuits to inspect but actually voluntarily helping the citizens of Martin County maintain their septics. Why does everything have to end up in court?  Why can’t we just ask people to do this right thing? Why is this such a fight?  Creating mandatory anything will just create more angst for our citizens who have enough angst already. Do we need anymore angst. I say no.

It’s very likely there was a lot of BS which is why Joe Negron did what he did the first place.

I did see this from Commissioner Haddix.

john haddox

So this is good. We can start having a conversation.

Here are some other remarks that need to be considered.

‪Mark said: I think septic tank inspections and needed repair should be required by law. This would solve part of the problem quickly. Functioning septic systems in proper locations are not a problem, actual groundwater monitoring studies by FIT prove this. I believe Lapointe is looking at nitrogen isotopes. Hooking functioning septic systems to municipal sewage treatment creates other problems such as aquifer injection, a good way to ruin an underground water supply, and many municipal sewage pipes leak into the groundwater.

Another good point.

‪Douglas said this: ‬ Since our county has not stood up to Big Sugar I am suspect that the recent Septic Tank issue is centered around kicking the can down the road because they will not stand up and force the water south and they have taken the opportunity to turn Septic Tank effluent into a business. Expect Martin County to get into the Septic Tank Business on steroids. This will force people to comply with and hook up causing thousands of dollars of cost to the home owner. Jupiter has forced people to hook up when they had a perfectly functioning septic field at a cost of $10,000. (approx)

It’s complicated and because it affects a lot of citizens, our lagoon, our St Lucie River it deserves a conversation with more than one expert. I know a lot of researchers from over the years. It all depends on who is supporting your research.

In the last week I did hear from people who want to install some kind of cool compostable system like this.

They were denied.

http://www.composting-toilet-store.com/Septic_System_Alternatives_s/69.htm

I’d have to do some research but I love the idea of getting creative to at least put a dent in the issue voluntarily.

Lets do this. Let’s do some research on those cool enzymes and see what we can come up with product wise.

Martin Commissioners maybe you can figure out a way we can pump the poop from tanks if people can’t afford this so while we’re talking about this we’re making the world a better place. It doesn’t matter where the blame lies. What matters is we come up with creative solutions as citizens. This has been an issue for a long time. Let’s do something about it.

Here is the info for Tuesday again. Hope to see you all there.

Brian Lapointe, a research professor at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Fort Pierce, will talk about his team’s study on the impact of septic systems on the St. Lucie River estuary and nearshore reefs.

What: Martin County Commission meeting

When: 9 a.m. Nov. 3

Where: Commission Chambers, 2401 S.E. Monterey Road, Stuart

Information: www.martin.fl.us

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2 comments on “Keep calm and put your thinking cap on: Septic Tank Eve. Let’s be environmentally creative.

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