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Flooding, groundwater rise can have impact on septic systems

GAINESVILLE — The Florida Department of Environmental Protection estimates the state has more than 2 million septic systems. If an owner does not properly maintain one, it poses an environmental threat to the state’s drinking water. Besides regular maintenance, managing the impacts of flooding and groundwater rise are two more issues owners must address. A new UF/IFAS publication explains the effects these two phenomena have on septic systems.

Dr. Mary Lusk, assistant professor of urban soil and water quality in the UF/IFAS department of soil, water, and ecosystem sciences, authored the publication. She says the information is primarily for homeowners or renters who rely on a septic system, but it is just as valuable for government planners and decision makers.

“When you think of a septic system as a small, onsite wastewater treatment plant, you realize how serious its job is,” Lusk explains. “It collects everything you flush down the toilet, pour down the sink, shower, and bathtub as well as the washing machine and dishwasher. The septic system has to process all that, which includes harmful chemicals and disease-causing pathogens.”