Miami Waterkeeper’s “Stop Septic Pollution” campaign is a key front in the fight to preserve South Florida’s clean water for generations to come. Aaron Stauber, a Miami Waterkeeper researcher who recently completed his graduate studies at the University of Miami, has led this project by studying the history of septic pollution in South Florida and spearheading efforts to convert Miami’s septic systems to the public sewer system.
On November 11, 2020, Aaron presented his research findings through a virtual forum in order to tell South Florida's Septic Story.
In his presentation, Aaron highlighted that decades of inaction have led to the catastrophic Biscayne Bay fish kills and seagrass die-offs we struggle with today. As far back as 1949, South Florida has dealt with failing septic tanks. In a 1949 issue of Look Magazine, South Florida was labeled a “Polluted Paradise” because of the leaking septic tanks. This issue even attracted the attention of the federal government, which mandated in 1970 that Miami develop a master plan in three years to end sewage pollution and eliminate all septic tanks. With $400 million of federal money, Miami-Dade County built 3 waste treatment plants to alleviate some of the pollution, but never mandated an end to septic tanks.
Septic tanks should never have been built in a place like Florida that lacks the multiple feet of dry soil needed to properly filter wastewater before it reaches groundwater. The porous limestone bedrock under our feet allows septic tank pollution to reach our precious groundwater resources. Sea level rise and storm intensification caused by climate change are also colliding with Florida’s long-standing septic problem. Of the 120,000 septic systems in Miami-Dade County today, half of them are compromised for part of the year. That means that 60,000 septic tanks pollute our drinking water at some time during the year. Within 20 years, the percentage of septic tanks that won’t properly function will rise to 64%.
Miami Waterkeeper’s “Stop Septic Pollution” campaign advocates for the complete elimination of conventional septic systems in urban Miami-Dade County. Aaron Stauber has helped Miami Waterkeeper develop immediate and mid-range goals to accomplish this long-term goal.
But we need you to push your political leaders to support mass septic to sewer conversion. Sign our stop septic pollution petition today!