$3 billion problem: Miami-Dade’s septic tanks are already failing due to sea rise

Photo: A Miami-Dade neighborhood that relies on septic tanks experiences flooding during the 2016 King Tide. A new report commissioned by the county shows that half of the county’s septic tanks break down yearly, a problem that sea level rise will worsen. MIAMI-DADE COUNTY

Miami-Dade has tens of thousands of septic tanks, and a new report reveals most are already malfunctioning — the smelly and unhealthy evidence of which often ends up in people’s yards and homes. It’s a billion-dollar problem that climate change is making worse.

As sea level rise encroaches on South Florida, the Miami-Dade County study shows that thousands more residents may be at risk — and soon. By 2040, 64 percent of county septic tanks (more than 67,000) could have issues every year, affecting not only the people who rely on them for sewage treatment, but the region’s water supply and the health of anyone who wades through floodwaters.

“That’s a huge deal for a developed country in 2019 to have half of the septic tanks not functioning for part of the year,” said Miami Waterkeeper Executive Director Rachel Silverstein. “That is not acceptable.”

Septic tanks require a layer of dirt underneath to do the final filtration work and return the liquid waste back to the aquifer. Older rules required one foot of soil, but newer regulations call for double that. In South Florida, there’s not that much dirt between the homes above ground and the water below. Digital […]

More about South Florida and septic systems:

Septic systems are a major source of emerging contaminants in drinking water

On the Chesapeake, A Precarious Future of Rising Seas and High Tides

Human Medicine Loading River Creatures With Dozens of Drugs

South Florida Water Shortage Warning: Lawn Watering Limits

The lesser-known threat from sea-level rise? Saltwater intrusion into Florida’s freshwater wells.

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$3 billion problem: Miami-Dade’s septic tanks are already failing due to sea rise
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$3 billion problem: Miami-Dade’s septic tanks are already failing due to sea rise
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By 2040, 64 percent of septic tanks could have issues every year, affecting the sewage treatment, and the region's water supply and public health.
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Miami Herald
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