TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection recently awarded more than $850,000 in grants to the Florida Department of Health (DOH). The funding will allow DOH to conduct important survey work to update the state’s septic tank, or onsite sewage treatment and disposal system (OSTDS), inventory as well as a Duval County septic tank remediation project.
“We are pleased to partner with the Florida Department of Health on these septic inventory updates, maintenance and management projects throughout the state,” said Drew Bartlett, DEP deputy secretary for ecosystems restoration. “It is important for state agencies to come together to reduce pollution and help protect the water quality of Florida’s precious waterways.”
The Department of Health in Duval County was awarded a total of $549,000 for the continuation of projects to identify and remedy systems that may be contributing pollutants to 25 impaired waterbodies in the Lower St. Johns River Watershed. The projects include identifying aging and malfunctioning septic systems to be repaired, modified, replaced or connected to a central sewer system, which will help improve water quality in the St. Johns River and its tributaries.
“The Department of Health in Duval County appreciates this funding from DEP that will help with these septic tank projects,” said Scott Turner, director for environmental health and safety at the Florida Department of Health in Duval County. “Going
door-to-door for septic tank inspections and homeowner education is an essential component to identifying problem areas and helping our waterways return to their pristine condition.”
An award of $199,862 was made for onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems inventory updates for 45 of the state’s 67 counties. A comprehensive up-to-date inventory will help assess the impacts of septic systems on Florida’s impaired waters.
In addition, $115,000 was also awarded for the creation of an OSTDS maintenance and management module within DOH’s existing centralized database. This module will capture construction permits for system installation or repairs, as well as operating permit records for systems that require ongoing maintenance and management. This will help provide important information to support the improvement, maintenance and management of advanced OSTDS in the state.
Funding for these projects comes from Environmental Protection Agency Section 319 grants, which are administered by DEP. Nonpoint source pollution results from many widespread sources rather than a single, distinct origin including stormwater runoff from urban surface areas and agricultural operations, septic tanks and erosion.
Section 319 funds are awarded annually for projects and activities designed to reduce the impacts of nonpoint source pollution. Solicitation guidance, application, eligibility criteria, instructions and evaluation criteria for can be found at http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/nonpoint/319h.htm.