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Lawmakers analyze Florida septic tanks to prevent nutrient pollution

Taking care of our water means thinking of everything that affects its quality. Right now, state lawmakers are taking a closer look at septic tanks.

Despite the unusually cool weather, Pam Johnson and her dog, Red, enjoy Horton Park in Cape Coral.

“Thankful to be here instead of Minnesota,” Johnson said. “The water is just beautiful. It’s fun to watch the boats and jet skis and all of the different people going by.”

After moving to Cape Coral from up north last summer, Johnson is learning about our area’s need for clean water.

“I know it’s more of a concern than where I’m from and so definitely wanting to keep an eye on that.”

State lawmakers want to keep an eye on our water, too, with sights set on septic and sewer. The Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection would make sure septic tanks are designed and repaired to prevent nutrient pollution, which can fuel algal blooms.

Dr. Tom Missimer, Emergent Technologies Institute director at Florida Gulf Coast University, said this is a problem.

“Septic tanks are typically used in the rural community and if they’re not maintained,” Missimer said, “the solids will spill into what they call the absorption field.”

Missimer warns of problems arising when more people move into a particular area. There is more potential for surface water bodies and groundwater contamination.

With eyes on algal bloom surfaces at the state level, the hope is for people like Johnson, and their furry companions, like Red, to enjoy our water.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
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