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New Septic Rules for small lots in Gilchrist

Small lot owners in parts of Gilchrist County will no longer be allowed to use conventional septic tanks for new homes or mobile homes as of July 1, 2018. The parts of Gilchrist County that will be affected by the new Basin Management Action Plan is mostly located in the southern half of Gilchrist County, west of 129 to the Dixie County line at the Suwannee River and South of 232 all the way into Levy County south of Chiefland. Some 147,443.16 acres in total will soon officially be a Springs Priority Focus Area. Some of the Waccasassa Flats property on the east side of 129 will also be included. This area will be known as the Fanning Springs and Manatee Springs Focus Area.
Wesley Asbell, of the Department of Health in Gilchrist County, Environmental Health Section reported that traditional septic tank permits will not be issued for lots less than one acre in this area of Gilchrist and Levy Counties. Instead those wanting to build a home or move a mobile home on less than one acre lots will have to use an alterative advanced treatment system which will remove 65% of nitrates from the waste water. Asbell believes there are around 2,500 such lots in the Focus Area that will be affected.
Those already living in the Primary Focus Area, mainly around springs, will be able to use their current septic system. If the current septic system fails, homeowners can make repairs. If a homeowner with a conventional septic system decides to enlarge their current home, they will be required to change to the advanced treatment system. At this time Asbell wasn’t sure of the cost of these new systems, but he believes that they will be more expensive than a conventional septic tank.
These changes all came about after the Florida Legislature identified 30 “Outstanding Florida Springs” that require additional protection. A total of 24 of these 30 springs were found to have excess levels of nitrogen pollution, particularly nitrate. The ways springs will be protected will be outlined in a restoration plan, known as a Basin Management Action Plan or BMAP. These plans focus on reducing nitrogen pollution that is impacting the water quality of the springs. DEP developed a BMAP for all the springs that are not meeting water quality standards. Each BMAP must identify the sources of nitrogen pollution within the springshed and include strategies to reduce the pollution. Sources of nitrogen include wastewater, water from septic tanks, stormwater runoff, and fertilizer runoff from both urban and agricultural lands. Wesley Asbell will be presenting the information about the BMAP, the Springs Priority Focus Areas and the effect on septic tank permits to the Gilchrist County Commission at the Commissioners’ June 4 meeting.

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