Primer on residential wastewater treatment systems

Primer on residential wastewater treatment systems

By Bruce Loucks, Charlotte County administrator, Charlotte Sun-Herald Newspaper. Reprinted with permission.

Questions frequently arise regarding residential sewer systems. In Charlotte County, there are several different companies which provide for central sewer treatment. Charlotte County government is one of the larger systems in the area, as are the City of Punta Gorda and the Englewood Water District.

This article will, hopefully, flush out some information regarding wastewater and septic systems in Charlotte County to residents on the central sewer system and those residents who are not on any system but have septic tanks. Septic tanks are regulated by the state of Florida through the public health department.

For the county there are two types of residential systems, central sewer and a hybrid of central sewer called the low pressure system. Central sewer collects waste from homes using the flow of gravity from homes to collect waste from multiple residents. The waste is then pumped through pipes to treatment plants. The county has four treatment plants. They are referred to as water reclamation facilities (WRFs). They are located at Eastport in the central part of the county; West Port which is just west of the Myakka River; Rotonda in West County, and Burnt Store in the south portion of the county. The county has more than 31,000 customers serviced by our wastewater system and these plants.

The other county system uses a small pump at each house which pumps the waste to larger pipes which then pumps the waste to treatment plants. In both cases, all maintenance to the system and pumps are provided by Charlotte County Utilities.

The homeowner is responsible for the maintenance of septic systems, and these systems are regulated by the state’s public health department. There are two types of septic systems.

One type is the traditional system with an underground tank into which waste from the home flows. The waste then flows into underground drain pipes which allow the treated waste to seep into the ground.

The other type of septic system, called an aerobic treatment unit is like a traditional septic system; however, the drain-field is smaller. Also, there is a small pump in the septic tank which agitates the waste in the tank.

Both septic systems are regulated and monitored by the health department in accordance with the Florida Administration Commission Final Order AC89-5 that accepted the non-sewer solution as a managed septic program. Recently, in areas of the county near Spring Lake and the Manchester lock, a more stringent monitoring process was implemented by the state. Regular septic tank inspections are required. A fee is charged by the health department for the inspection, database tracking of systems, and consumer protection by regulation of the pump truck operators and contractors, with any additional costs for septic pump-outs to be paid by the homeowner.

If you have any questions regarding septic tank inspections and maintenance, you should call the state public health department at 743-1501/1504 or please visit their Web site, www.charlotte.chd.com to leave your message.

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