Health News Florida: Leaky Septic Tanks Worsening Algae Blooms, Scientist Says

Article Posted on July 19, 2018

By: Dericka James, Health News Florida

Leaking septic tanks may be causing prolonged algae blooms like the one currently killing fish and wildlife near Lake Okeechobee.

The recent outbreak of blue-green algae across Florida is also raising serious public health concerns. Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency earlier this month because of the blooms. According to the Florida Department of Health, there are more than 2.6 million septic tanks across the state, but less than one percent are regularly inspected to insure they do not leak.

Brian Lapointe, a marine ecosystem scientist at Florida Atlantic University, said the leaks themselves may not start algae blooms, but they do fuel them with more nutrients to continue growing.

“The primary sources of nutrient pollution that feed the algae blooms are fertilizer in the storm water runoff from agricultural operations and suburban lawns and human waste from leaky septic tanks,” said Lapointe.

In 2010 the state legislature passed a law ordering septic tanks to be inspected every five years. They repealed the law in 2012, and former Florida Senator Charlie Dean now thinks that may have been a bad idea…

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