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Septic Tanks

Environmental Health Program

  •  407-858-1497


    407-228-1467 or 407-228-1468

    Mailing Address

    1001 Executive Center Drive, Suite 200 

    Orlando, FL 32803 


Onsite Sewage Treatment and Disposal Systems are regulated by the Florida Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Protection under Chapter 64E-6 of the Florida Administrative Code.

A septic tank system consists of a large, watertight tank that receives wastewater from the home plumbing system. The tank is followed by an underground drain field consisting of a network of perforated pipe or chambers for distributing partially treated water from the septic tank to the soil for final treatment and disposal.

Septic tanks contain bacteria that grow best in oxygen-poor conditions. Bacteria that require oxygen thrive in the drain field and complete the treatment process begun in the septic tank. If the septic tank is working well, the wastewater which flows out of the tank is relatively clear, although it still has an odor and may carry disease organisms. It should flow only into the drain field.

Contaminants can travel long distances in some soils. Therefore, drinking water wells should be located at least 75 feet from any part of a septic tank system. With certain exceptions, septic tanks and drain fields must be located at least 75 feet away from the high water line of ponds, rivers and lakes. Also, the drain field should be located so that it will not be saturated by surface water drainage or runoff from roof gutters.

Septic tank systems fail when the drain field does not dispose of sewage as rapidly as it is being added to the system. Thus, improvements that reduce the amount of incoming water or improve the quality of wastewater passing through the system will increase the system's longevity.

Septic Tank Tips

  • Know the location and capacity of your septic tank system. If you have a copy of your original permit, keep it available for future reference.
  • Have a licensed contractor inspect the tank at least every 3 years.
  • Have tank pumped when the combined depth of the sludge and scum equals 1/3 of the tank liquid volume.
  • Install the system so that rainfall and surface water will flow away from the drain field.  Grow grass above the system.
  • Install water conservation fixtures or devices to reduce the total volume of water entering the system.
  • Keep plumbing fixtures such as toilets and faucets in good repair to prevent leakage and wasting of water
  • Keep copies of maintenance receipts. Keep a sketch of the location of your tank and drain field.
  • Don't flush paper towels, newspapers, wrapping paper, rags or sticks into the system.
  • Don't over-use ordinary household cleaning chemicals that will be flushed into the system.
  • Don't pour out or empty hobby or home industry chemicals into the system.
  • Don't flush grease down the drain.
  • Don't flush toxic materials such as pesticides into the system.
  • Don't plant trees or shrubbery in the drain field.
  • Don't allow vehicles (cars, trucks, etc.) to drive across or park on the drain field. (Protect it from being crushed.)
  • Don't use chemical solvents to clean plumbing lines or a septic tank system.