Florida Senate - 2012                CS for CS for CS for SB 820
       By the Committees on Budget; Health Regulation; and
       Environmental Preservation and Conservation; and Senators Dean,
       Evers, Storms, Gaetz, and Montford
       576-04459-12                                           2012820c3
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to onsite sewage treatment and
    3         disposal systems; amending s. 381.0065, F.S.; deleting
    4         legislative intent; defining the term “bedroom”;
    5         conforming cross-references; providing for any permit
    6         issued and approved by the Department of Health for
    7         the installation, modification, or repair of an onsite
    8         sewage treatment and disposal system to transfer with
    9         the title of the property; providing conditions under
   10         which governmental entities are prohibited from
   11         requiring certain inspections and systems; providing
   12         applicability; providing an exception; providing
   13         circumstances in which an onsite sewage treatment and
   14         disposal system is not considered abandoned; providing
   15         for the validity of an onsite sewage treatment and
   16         disposal system permit if rules change before final
   17         approval of the constructed system, under certain
   18         conditions; providing that a system modification,
   19         replacement, or upgrade is not required unless a
   20         bedroom is added to a single-family home; deleting
   21         provisions requiring the department to administer an
   22         evaluation and assessment program of onsite sewage
   23         treatment and disposal systems and requiring property
   24         owners to have such systems evaluated at least once
   25         every 5 years; deleting obsolete provisions; creating
   26         s. 381.00651, F.S.; requiring a county or municipality
   27         containing a first magnitude spring to adopt by
   28         ordinance, under certain circumstances, the program
   29         for the periodic evaluation and assessment of onsite
   30         sewage treatment and disposal systems; requiring the
   31         county or municipality to notify the Secretary of
   32         State of the ordinance; authorizing a county or
   33         municipality, in specified circumstances, to opt out
   34         by a vote of 60 percent of the governing board;
   35         authorizing a county or municipality to adopt or
   36         repeal, after a specified date, an ordinance creating
   37         an evaluation and assessment program, subject to
   38         notification of the Secretary of State; providing
   39         criteria for evaluations, qualified contractors, and
   40         repair of systems; providing for certain procedures
   41         and exemptions in special circumstances; defining the
   42         term “system failure”; requiring that certain
   43         procedures be used for conducting tank and drainfield
   44         evaluations; providing for certain procedures in
   45         special circumstances; providing for contractor
   46         immunity from liability under certain conditions;
   47         providing for assessment procedures; providing
   48         requirements for county health departments; requiring
   49         the Department of Health to allow county health
   50         departments and qualified contractors to access the
   51         state database to track data and evaluation reports;
   52         requiring counties and municipalities to notify the
   53         Secretary of Environmental Protection and the
   54         Department of Health when an evaluation program
   55         ordinance is adopted; requiring the Department of
   56         Environmental Protection to notify those counties or
   57         municipalities of the use of, and access to, certain
   58         state and federal program funds and to provide certain
   59         guidance and technical assistance upon request;
   60         prohibiting the adoption of certain rules by the
   61         Department of Health; providing for applicability;
   62         repealing s. 381.00656, F.S., relating to a grant
   63         program for the repair of onsite sewage treatment and
   64         disposal systems; amending s. 381.0066, F.S.; lowering
   65         the fees imposed by the department for certain
   66         permits; conforming cross-references; providing an
   67         effective date.
   69  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   71         Section 1. Subsections (1), (5), (6), and (7) of section
   72  381.0065, Florida Statues, are amended, paragraphs (b) through
   73  (p) of subsection (2) of that section are redesignated as
   74  paragraphs (c) through (q), respectively, a new paragraph (b) is
   75  added to that subsection, paragraph (j) of subsection (3) and
   76  paragraph (n) of subsection (4) of that section are amended, and
   77  paragraphs (w) through (aa) are added to subsection (4) of that
   78  section, to read:
   79         381.0065 Onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems;
   80  regulation.—
   81         (1) LEGISLATIVE INTENT.—
   82         (a) It is the intent of the Legislature that proper
   83  management of onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems is
   84  paramount to the health, safety, and welfare of the public. It
   85  is further the intent of the Legislature that the department
   86  shall administer an evaluation program to ensure the operational
   87  condition of the system and identify any failure with the
   88  system.
   89         (b) It is the intent of the Legislature that where a
   90  publicly owned or investor-owned sewerage system is not
   91  available, the department shall issue permits for the
   92  construction, installation, modification, abandonment, or repair
   93  of onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems under conditions
   94  as described in this section and rules adopted under this
   95  section. It is further the intent of the Legislature that the
   96  installation and use of onsite sewage treatment and disposal
   97  systems not adversely affect the public health or significantly
   98  degrade the groundwater or surface water.
   99         (2) DEFINITIONS.—As used in ss. 381.0065-381.0067, the
  100  term:
  101         (b)1. “Bedroom” means a room that can be used for sleeping
  102  and that:
  103         a. For site-built dwellings, has a minimum of 70 square
  104  feet of conditioned space;
  105         b. For manufactured homes, is constructed according to
  106  standards of the United States Department of Housing and Urban
  107  Development and has a minimum of 50 square feet of floor area;
  108         c. Is located along an exterior wall;
  109         d. Has a closet and a door or an entrance where a door
  110  could be reasonably installed; and
  111         e. Has an emergency means of escape and rescue opening to
  112  the outside.
  113         2. A room may not be considered a bedroom if it is used to
  114  access another room except a bathroom or closet.
  115         3. “Bedroom” does not include a hallway, bathroom, kitchen,
  116  living room, family room, dining room, den, breakfast nook,
  117  pantry, laundry room, sunroom, recreation room, media/video
  118  room, or exercise room.
  120  department shall:
  121         (j) Supervise research on, demonstration of, and training
  122  on the performance, environmental impact, and public health
  123  impact of onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems within
  124  this state. Research fees collected under s. 381.0066(2)(k)
  125  381.0066(2)(l) must be used to develop and fund hands-on
  126  training centers designed to provide practical information about
  127  onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems to septic tank
  128  contractors, master septic tank contractors, contractors,
  129  inspectors, engineers, and the public and must also be used to
  130  fund research projects which focus on improvements of onsite
  131  sewage treatment and disposal systems, including use of
  132  performance-based standards and reduction of environmental
  133  impact. Research projects shall be initially approved by the
  134  technical review and advisory panel and shall be applicable to
  135  and reflect the soil conditions specific to Florida. Such
  136  projects shall be awarded through competitive negotiation, using
  137  the procedures provided in s. 287.055, to public or private
  138  entities that have experience in onsite sewage treatment and
  139  disposal systems in Florida and that are principally located in
  140  Florida. Research projects shall not be awarded to firms or
  141  entities that employ or are associated with persons who serve on
  142  either the technical review and advisory panel or the research
  143  review and advisory committee.
  144         (4) PERMITS; INSTALLATION; AND CONDITIONS.—A person may not
  145  construct, repair, modify, abandon, or operate an onsite sewage
  146  treatment and disposal system without first obtaining a permit
  147  approved by the department. The department may issue permits to
  148  carry out this section, but shall not make the issuance of such
  149  permits contingent upon prior approval by the Department of
  150  Environmental Protection, except that the issuance of a permit
  151  for work seaward of the coastal construction control line
  152  established under s. 161.053 shall be contingent upon receipt of
  153  any required coastal construction control line permit from the
  154  Department of Environmental Protection. A construction permit is
  155  valid for 18 months from the issuance date and may be extended
  156  by the department for one 90-day period under rules adopted by
  157  the department. A repair permit is valid for 90 days from the
  158  date of issuance. An operating permit must be obtained prior to
  159  the use of any aerobic treatment unit or if the establishment
  160  generates commercial waste. Buildings or establishments that use
  161  an aerobic treatment unit or generate commercial waste shall be
  162  inspected by the department at least annually to assure
  163  compliance with the terms of the operating permit. The operating
  164  permit for a commercial wastewater system is valid for 1 year
  165  from the date of issuance and must be renewed annually. The
  166  operating permit for an aerobic treatment unit is valid for 2
  167  years from the date of issuance and must be renewed every 2
  168  years. If all information pertaining to the siting, location,
  169  and installation conditions or repair of an onsite sewage
  170  treatment and disposal system remains the same, a construction
  171  or repair permit for the onsite sewage treatment and disposal
  172  system may be transferred to another person, if the transferee
  173  files, within 60 days after the transfer of ownership, an
  174  amended application providing all corrected information and
  175  proof of ownership of the property. There is no fee associated
  176  with the processing of this supplemental information. A person
  177  may not contract to construct, modify, alter, repair, service,
  178  abandon, or maintain any portion of an onsite sewage treatment
  179  and disposal system without being registered under part III of
  180  chapter 489. A property owner who personally performs
  181  construction, maintenance, or repairs to a system serving his or
  182  her own owner-occupied single-family residence is exempt from
  183  registration requirements for performing such construction,
  184  maintenance, or repairs on that residence, but is subject to all
  185  permitting requirements. A municipality or political subdivision
  186  of the state may not issue a building or plumbing permit for any
  187  building that requires the use of an onsite sewage treatment and
  188  disposal system unless the owner or builder has received a
  189  construction permit for such system from the department. A
  190  building or structure may not be occupied and a municipality,
  191  political subdivision, or any state or federal agency may not
  192  authorize occupancy until the department approves the final
  193  installation of the onsite sewage treatment and disposal system.
  194  A municipality or political subdivision of the state may not
  195  approve any change in occupancy or tenancy of a building that
  196  uses an onsite sewage treatment and disposal system until the
  197  department has reviewed the use of the system with the proposed
  198  change, approved the change, and amended the operating permit.
  199         (n) Evaluations for determining the seasonal high-water
  200  table elevations or the suitability of soils for the use of a
  201  new onsite sewage treatment and disposal system shall be
  202  performed by department personnel, professional engineers
  203  registered in the state, or such other persons with expertise,
  204  as defined by rule, in making such evaluations. Evaluations for
  205  determining mean annual flood lines shall be performed by those
  206  persons identified in paragraph (2)(j) (2)(i). The department
  207  shall accept evaluations submitted by professional engineers and
  208  such other persons as meet the expertise established by this
  209  section or by rule unless the department has a reasonable
  210  scientific basis for questioning the accuracy or completeness of
  211  the evaluation.
  212         (w) Any permit issued and approved by the department for
  213  the installation, modification, or repair of an onsite sewage
  214  treatment and disposal system shall transfer with the title to
  215  the property in a real estate transaction. A title may not be
  216  encumbered at the time of transfer by new permit requirements by
  217  a governmental entity for an onsite sewage treatment and
  218  disposal system which differ from the permitting requirements in
  219  effect at the time the system was permitted, modified, or
  220  repaired. No inspection of a system shall be mandated by any
  221  governmental entity at the point of sale in a real estate
  222  transaction.
  223         (x) A governmental entity, including a municipality,
  224  county, or statutorily created commission, may not require an
  225  engineer-designed performance-based treatment system, excluding
  226  a passive engineer-designed performance-based treatment system,
  227  before the completion of the Florida Onsite Sewage Nitrogen
  228  Reduction Strategies Project. This paragraph does not apply to a
  229  governmental entity, including a municipality, county, or
  230  statutorily created commission, which adopted a local law,
  231  ordinance, or regulation on or before January 31, 2012.
  232  Notwithstanding this paragraph, an engineer-designed
  233  performance-based treatment system may be used to meet the
  234  requirements of the variance review and advisory committee
  235  recommendations.
  236         (y)1. An onsite sewage treatment and disposal system is not
  237  considered abandoned if the system is disconnected from a
  238  structure that was made unusable or destroyed following a
  239  disaster and if the system was properly functioning at the time
  240  of disconnection and not adversely affected by the disaster. The
  241  onsite sewage treatment and disposal system may be reconnected
  242  to a rebuilt structure if:
  243         a. The reconnection of the system is to the same type of
  244  structure which contains the same number of bedrooms or fewer,
  245  if the square footage of the structure is less than or equal to
  246  110 percent of the original square footage of the structure that
  247  existed before the disaster;
  248         b. The system is not a sanitary nuisance; and
  249         c. The system has not been altered without prior
  250  authorization.
  251         2. An onsite sewage treatment and disposal system that
  252  serves a property that is foreclosed upon is not considered
  253  abandoned.
  254         (z) If an onsite sewage treatment and disposal system
  255  permittee receives, relies upon, and undertakes construction of
  256  a system based upon a validly issued construction permit under
  257  rules applicable at the time of construction but a change to a
  258  rule occurs within 5 years after the approval of the system for
  259  construction but before the final approval of the system, the
  260  rules applicable and in effect at the time of construction
  261  approval apply at the time of final approval if fundamental site
  262  conditions have not changed between the time of construction
  263  approval and final approval.
  264         (aa) A modification, replacement, or upgrade of an onsite
  265  sewage treatment and disposal system is not required for a
  266  remodeling addition to a single-family home if a bedroom is not
  267  added.
  269         (a) Beginning July 1, 2011, the department shall administer
  270  an onsite sewage treatment and disposal system evaluation
  271  program for the purpose of assessing the fundamental operational
  272  condition of systems and identifying any failures within the
  273  systems. The department shall adopt rules implementing the
  274  program standards, procedures, and requirements, including, but
  275  not limited to, a schedule for a 5-year evaluation cycle,
  276  requirements for the pump-out of a system or repair of a failing
  277  system, enforcement procedures for failure of a system owner to
  278  obtain an evaluation of the system, and failure of a contractor
  279  to timely submit evaluation results to the department and the
  280  system owner. The department shall ensure statewide
  281  implementation of the evaluation and assessment program by
  282  January 1, 2016.
  283         (b) Owners of an onsite sewage treatment and disposal
  284  system, excluding a system that is required to obtain an
  285  operating permit, shall have the system evaluated at least once
  286  every 5 years to assess the fundamental operational condition of
  287  the system, and identify any failure within the system.
  288         (c) All evaluation procedures must be documented and
  289  nothing in this subsection limits the amount of detail an
  290  evaluator may provide at his or her professional discretion. The
  291  evaluation must include a tank and drainfield evaluation, a
  292  written assessment of the condition of the system, and, if
  293  necessary, a disclosure statement pursuant to the department’s
  294  procedure.
  295         (d)1. Systems being evaluated that were installed prior to
  296  January 1, 1983, shall meet a minimum 6-inch separation from the
  297  bottom of the drainfield to the wettest season water table
  298  elevation as defined by department rule. All drainfield repairs,
  299  replacements or modifications to systems installed prior to
  300  January 1, 1983, shall meet a minimum 12-inch separation from
  301  the bottom of the drainfield to the wettest season water table
  302  elevation as defined by department rule.
  303         2. Systems being evaluated that were installed on or after
  304  January 1, 1983, shall meet a minimum 12-inch separation from
  305  the bottom of the drainfield to the wettest season water table
  306  elevation as defined by department rule. All drainfield repairs,
  307  replacements or modification to systems developed on or after
  308  January 1, 1983, shall meet a minimum 24-inch separation from
  309  the bottom of the drainfield to the wettest season water table
  310  elevation.
  311         (e) If documentation of a tank pump-out or a permitted new
  312  installation, repair, or modification of the system within the
  313  previous 5 years is provided, and states the capacity of the
  314  tank and indicates that the condition of the tank is not a
  315  sanitary or public health nuisance pursuant to department rule,
  316  a pump-out of the system is not required.
  317         (f) Owners are responsible for paying the cost of any
  318  required pump-out, repair, or replacement pursuant to department
  319  rule, and may not request partial evaluation or the omission of
  320  portions of the evaluation.
  321         (g) Each evaluation or pump-out required under this
  322  subsection must be performed by a septic tank contractor or
  323  master septic tank contractor registered under part III of
  324  chapter 489, a professional engineer with wastewater treatment
  325  system experience licensed pursuant to chapter 471, or an
  326  environmental health professional certified under chapter 381 in
  327  the area of onsite sewage treatment and disposal system
  328  evaluation.
  329         (h) The evaluation report fee collected pursuant to s.
  330  381.0066(2)(b) shall be remitted to the department by the
  331  evaluator at the time the report is submitted.
  332         (i) Prior to any evaluation deadline, the department must
  333  provide a minimum of 60 days’ notice to owners that their
  334  systems must be evaluated by that deadline. The department may
  335  include a copy of any homeowner educational materials developed
  336  pursuant to this section which provides information on the
  337  proper maintenance of onsite sewage treatment and disposal
  338  systems.
  340         (a) Department personnel who have reason to believe
  341  noncompliance exists, may at any reasonable time, enter the
  342  premises permitted under ss. 381.0065-381.0066, or the business
  343  premises of any septic tank contractor or master septic tank
  344  contractor registered under part III of chapter 489, or any
  345  premises that the department has reason to believe is being
  346  operated or maintained not in compliance, to determine
  347  compliance with the provisions of this section, part I of
  348  chapter 386, or part III of chapter 489 or rules or standards
  349  adopted under ss. 381.0065-381.0067, part I of chapter 386, or
  350  part III of chapter 489. As used in this paragraph, the term
  351  “premises” does not include a residence or private building. To
  352  gain entry to a residence or private building, the department
  353  must obtain permission from the owner or occupant or secure an
  354  inspection warrant from a court of competent jurisdiction.
  355         (b)1. The department may issue citations that may contain
  356  an order of correction or an order to pay a fine, or both, for
  357  violations of ss. 381.0065-381.0067, part I of chapter 386, or
  358  part III of chapter 489 or the rules adopted by the department,
  359  when a violation of these sections or rules is enforceable by an
  360  administrative or civil remedy, or when a violation of these
  361  sections or rules is a misdemeanor of the second degree. A
  362  citation issued under ss. 381.0065-381.0067, part I of chapter
  363  386, or part III of chapter 489 constitutes a notice of proposed
  364  agency action.
  365         2. A citation must be in writing and must describe the
  366  particular nature of the violation, including specific reference
  367  to the provisions of law or rule allegedly violated.
  368         3. The fines imposed by a citation issued by the department
  369  may not exceed $500 for each violation. Each day the violation
  370  exists constitutes a separate violation for which a citation may
  371  be issued.
  372         4. The department shall inform the recipient, by written
  373  notice pursuant to ss. 120.569 and 120.57, of the right to an
  374  administrative hearing to contest the citation within 21 days
  375  after the date the citation is received. The citation must
  376  contain a conspicuous statement that if the recipient fails to
  377  pay the fine within the time allowed, or fails to appear to
  378  contest the citation after having requested a hearing, the
  379  recipient has waived the recipient’s right to contest the
  380  citation and must pay an amount up to the maximum fine.
  381         5. The department may reduce or waive the fine imposed by
  382  the citation. In determining whether to reduce or waive the
  383  fine, the department must consider the gravity of the violation,
  384  the person’s attempts at correcting the violation, and the
  385  person’s history of previous violations including violations for
  386  which enforcement actions were taken under ss. 381.0065
  387  381.0067, part I of chapter 386, part III of chapter 489, or
  388  other provisions of law or rule.
  389         6. Any person who willfully refuses to sign and accept a
  390  citation issued by the department commits a misdemeanor of the
  391  second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s.
  392  775.083.
  393         7. The department, pursuant to ss. 381.0065-381.0067, part
  394  I of chapter 386, or part III of chapter 489, shall deposit any
  395  fines it collects in the county health department trust fund for
  396  use in providing services specified in those sections.
  397         8. This section provides an alternative means of enforcing
  398  ss. 381.0065-381.0067, part I of chapter 386, and part III of
  399  chapter 489. This section does not prohibit the department from
  400  enforcing ss. 381.0065-381.0067, part I of chapter 386, or part
  401  III of chapter 489, or its rules, by any other means. However,
  402  the department must elect to use only a single method of
  403  enforcement for each violation.
  404         (6)(7) LAND APPLICATION OF SEPTAGE PROHIBITED.—Effective
  405  January 1, 2016, the land application of septage from onsite
  406  sewage treatment and disposal systems is prohibited. By February
  407  1, 2011, the department, in consultation with the Department of
  408  Environmental Protection, shall provide a report to the
  409  Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the
  410  House of Representatives, recommending alternative methods to
  411  establish enhanced treatment levels for the land application of
  412  septage from onsite sewage and disposal systems. The report
  413  shall include, but is not limited to, a schedule for the
  414  reduction in land application, appropriate treatment levels,
  415  alternative methods for treatment and disposal, enhanced
  416  application site permitting requirements including any
  417  requirements for nutrient management plans, and the range of
  418  costs to local governments, affected businesses, and individuals
  419  for alternative treatment and disposal methods. The report shall
  420  also include any recommendations for legislation or rule
  421  authority needed to reduce land application of septage.
  422         Section 2. Section 381.00651, Florida Statutes, is created
  423  to read:
  424         381.00651 Periodic evaluation and assessment of onsite
  425  sewage treatment and disposal systems.—
  426         (1) For the purposes of this section, the term “first
  427  magnitude spring” means a spring that has a median water
  428  discharge of greater than or equal to 100 cubic feet per second
  429  for the period of record, as determined by the Department of
  430  Environmental Protection.
  431         (2) A county or municipality that contains a first
  432  magnitude spring shall, by no later than January 1, 2013,
  433  develop and adopt by local ordinance an onsite sewage treatment
  434  and disposal system evaluation and assessment program that meets
  435  the requirements of this section. The ordinance may apply within
  436  all or part of its geographic area. Those counties or
  437  municipalities containing a first magnitude spring which have
  438  already adopted an onsite sewage treatment and disposal system
  439  evaluation and assessment program and which meet the
  440  grandfathering requirements contained in this section, or have
  441  chosen to opt out of this section in the manner provided herein,
  442  are exempt from the requirement to adopt an ordinance
  443  implementing an evaluation and assessment program. The governing
  444  body of a local government that chooses to opt out of this
  445  section, by a 60 percent vote of the voting members of the
  446  governing board, shall do so by adopting a resolution that
  447  indicates an intent on the part of such local government not to
  448  adopt an onsite sewage treatment and disposal system evaluation
  449  and assessment program. Such resolution shall be addressed and
  450  transmitted to the Secretary of State. Absent an interlocal
  451  agreement or county charter provision to the contrary, a
  452  municipality may elect to opt out of the requirements of this
  453  section, by a 60 percent vote of the voting members of the
  454  governing board, notwithstanding a contrary decision of the
  455  governing body of a county. Any local government that has
  456  properly opted out of this section but subsequently chooses to
  457  adopt an evaluation and assessment program may do so only
  458  pursuant to the requirements of this section and may not deviate
  459  from such requirements.
  460         (3)Any county or municipality that does not contain a
  461  first magnitude spring may at any time develop and adopt by
  462  local ordinance an onsite sewage treatment and disposal system
  463  evaluation and assessment program, provided such program meets
  464  and does not deviate from the requirements of this section.
  465         (4)Notwithstanding any other provision in this section, a
  466  county or municipality that has adopted a program before July 1,
  467  2011, may continue to enforce its current program without having
  468  to meet the requirements of this section, provided such program
  469  does not require an evaluation at the point of sale in a real
  470  estate transaction.
  471         (5)Any county or municipality may repeal an ordinance
  472  adopted pursuant to this section only if the county or
  473  municipality notifies the Secretary of State by letter of the
  474  repeal. No county or municipality may adopt an onsite sewage
  475  treatment and disposal system evaluation and assessment program
  476  except pursuant to this section.
  477         (6)The requirements for an onsite sewage treatment and
  478  disposal system evaluation and assessment program are as
  479  follows:
  480         (a) Evaluations.—An evaluation of each onsite sewage
  481  treatment and disposal system within all or part of the county’s
  482  or municipality’s jurisdiction must take place once every 5
  483  years to assess the fundamental operational condition of the
  484  system and to identify system failures. The ordinance may not
  485  mandate an evaluation at the point of sale in a real estate
  486  transaction and may not require a soil examination. The location
  487  of the system shall be identified. A tank and drainfield
  488  evaluation and a written assessment of the overall condition of
  489  the system pursuant to the assessment procedure prescribed in
  490  subsection (7) are required.
  491         (b) Qualified contractors.—Each evaluation required under
  492  this subsection must be performed by a qualified contractor, who
  493  may be a septic tank contractor or master septic tank contractor
  494  registered under part III of chapter 489, a professional
  495  engineer having wastewater treatment system experience and
  496  licensed under chapter 471, or an environmental health
  497  professional certified under this chapter in the area of onsite
  498  sewage treatment and disposal system evaluation. Evaluations and
  499  pump-outs may also be performed by an authorized employee
  500  working under the supervision of an individual listed in this
  501  paragraph; however, all evaluation forms must be signed by a
  502  qualified contractor in writing or by electronic signature.
  503         (c) Repair of systems.—The local ordinance may not require
  504  a repair, modification, or replacement of a system as a result
  505  of an evaluation unless the evaluation identifies a system
  506  failure. For purposes of this subsection, the term “system
  507  failure” means a condition existing within an onsite sewage
  508  treatment and disposal system which results in the discharge of
  509  untreated or partially treated wastewater onto the ground
  510  surface or into surface water or that results in the failure of
  511  building plumbing to discharge properly and presents a sanitary
  512  nuisance. A system is not in failure if the system does not have
  513  a minimum separation distance between the drainfield and the
  514  wettest season water table or if an obstruction in a sanitary
  515  line or an effluent screen or filter prevents effluent from
  516  flowing into a drainfield. If a system failure is identified and
  517  several allowable remedial measures are available to resolve the
  518  failure, the system owner may choose the least costly allowable
  519  remedial measure to fix the system. There may be instances in
  520  which a pump-out is sufficient to resolve a system failure.
  521  Allowable remedial measures to resolve a system failure are
  522  limited to what is necessary to resolve the failure and must
  523  meet, to the maximum extent practicable, the requirements of the
  524  repair code in effect when the repair is made, subject to the
  525  exceptions specified in s. 381.0065(4)(g). An engineer-designed
  526  performance-based treatment system to reduce nutrients may not
  527  be required as an alternative remediation measure to resolve the
  528  failure of a conventional system.
  529         (d) Exemptions.
  530         1. The local ordinance shall exempt from the evaluation
  531  requirements any system that is required to obtain an operating
  532  permit pursuant to state law or that is inspected by the
  533  department pursuant to the annual permit inspection requirements
  534  of chapter 513.
  535         2. The local ordinance may provide for an exemption or an
  536  extension of time to obtain an evaluation and assessment if
  537  connection to a sewer system is available, connection to the
  538  sewer system is imminent, and written arrangements for payment
  539  of any utility assessments or connection fees have been made by
  540  the system owner.
  541         3. An onsite sewage treatment and disposal system serving a
  542  residential dwelling unit on a lot with a ratio of one bedroom
  543  per acre or greater is exempt from the requirements of this
  544  section and may not be included in any onsite sewage treatment
  545  and disposal system inspection program.
  546         (7) The following procedures shall be used for conducting
  547  evaluations:
  548         (a) Tank evaluation.—The tank evaluation shall assess the
  549  apparent structural condition and watertightness of the tank and
  550  shall estimate the size of the tank. The evaluation must include
  551  a pump-out. However, an ordinance may not require a pump-out if
  552  there is documentation indicating that a tank pump-out or a
  553  permitted new installation, repair, or modification of the
  554  system has occurred within the previous 5 years, identifying the
  555  capacity of the tank, and indicating that the condition of the
  556  tank is structurally sound and watertight. Visual inspection of
  557  the tank must be made when the tank is empty to detect cracks,
  558  leaks, or other defects. Baffles or tees must be checked to
  559  ensure that they are intact and secure. The evaluation shall
  560  note the presence and condition of outlet devices, effluent
  561  filters, and compartment walls; any structural defect in the
  562  tank; the condition and fit of the tank lid, including manholes;
  563  whether surface water can infiltrate the tank; and whether the
  564  tank was pumped out. If the tank, in the opinion of the
  565  qualified contractor, is in danger of being damaged by leaving
  566  the tank empty after inspection, the tank shall be refilled
  567  before concluding the inspection. Broken or damaged lids or
  568  manholes shall be replaced without obtaining a repair permit.
  569         (b) Drainfield evaluation.—The drainfield evaluation must
  570  include a determination of the approximate size and location of
  571  the drainfield. The evaluation shall state whether there is any
  572  sewage or effluent visible on the ground or discharging to a
  573  ditch or other water body and the location of any downspout or
  574  other source of water near or in the vicinity of the drainfield.
  575         (c) Special circumstances.—If the system contains pumps,
  576  siphons, or alarms, the following information may be provided at
  577  the request of the homeowner:
  578         1. An assessment of dosing tank integrity, including the
  579  approximate volume and the type of material used in the tank’s
  580  construction;
  581         2. Whether the pump is elevated off the bottom of the
  582  chamber and its operational status;
  583         3. Whether the system has a check valve and purge hole; and
  584         4. Whether the system has a high-water alarm, and if so
  585  whether the alarm is audio or visual or both, the location and
  586  operational condition of the alarm, and whether the electrical
  587  connections to the alarm appear satisfactory.
  589  If the homeowner does not request this information, the
  590  qualified contractor and its employee are not liable for any
  591  damages directly relating from a failure of the system’s pumps,
  592  siphons, or alarms. This exclusion of liability must be stated
  593  on the front cover of the report required under paragraph (d).
  594         (d) Assessment procedure.—All evaluation procedures used by
  595  a qualified contractor shall be documented in the environmental
  596  health database of the Department of Health. The qualified
  597  contractor shall provide a copy of a written, signed evaluation
  598  report to the property owner upon completion of the evaluation
  599  and to the county health department within 30 days after the
  600  evaluation. The report shall contain the name and license number
  601  of the company providing the report. A copy of the evaluation
  602  report shall be retained by the local county health department
  603  for a minimum of 5 years and until a subsequent inspection
  604  report is filed. The front cover of the report must identify any
  605  system failure and include a clear and conspicuous notice to the
  606  owner that the owner has a right to have any remediation of the
  607  failure performed by a qualified contractor other than the
  608  contractor performing the evaluation. The report must further
  609  identify any crack, leak, improper fit, or other defect in the
  610  tank, manhole, or lid, and any other damaged or missing
  611  component; any sewage or effluent visible on the ground or
  612  discharging to a ditch or other surface water body; any
  613  downspout, stormwater, or other source of water directed onto or
  614  toward the system; and any other maintenance need or condition
  615  of the system at the time of the evaluation which, in the
  616  opinion of the qualified contractor, would possibly interfere
  617  with or restrict any future repair or modification to the
  618  existing system. The report shall conclude with an overall
  619  assessment of the fundamental operational condition of the
  620  system.
  621         (8) The county health department shall administer any
  622  evaluation program on behalf of a county, or a municipality
  623  within the county, that has adopted an evaluation program
  624  pursuant to this section. In order to administer the evaluation
  625  program, the county or municipality, in consultation with the
  626  county health department, may develop a reasonable fee schedule
  627  to be used solely to pay for the costs of administering the
  628  evaluation program. Such a fee schedule shall be identified in
  629  the ordinance that adopts the evaluation program. When arriving
  630  at a reasonable fee schedule, the estimated annual revenues to
  631  be derived from fees may not exceed reasonable estimated annual
  632  costs of the program. Fees shall be assessed to the system owner
  633  during an inspection and separately identified on the invoice of
  634  the qualified contractor. Fees shall be remitted by the
  635  qualified contractor to the county health department. The county
  636  health department’s administrative responsibilities include the
  637  following:
  638         (a) Providing a notice to the system owner at least 60 days
  639  before the system is due for an evaluation. The notice may
  640  include information on the proper maintenance of onsite sewage
  641  treatment and disposal systems.
  642         (b) In consultation with the Department of Health,
  643  providing uniform disciplinary procedures and penalties for
  644  qualified contractors who do not comply with the requirements of
  645  the adopted ordinance, including, but not limited to, failure to
  646  provide the evaluation report as required in this subsection to
  647  the system owner and the county health department. Only the
  648  county health department may assess penalties against system
  649  owners for failure to comply with the adopted ordinance,
  650  consistent with existing requirements of law.
  651         (9)(a) A county or municipality that adopts an onsite
  652  sewage treatment and disposal system evaluation and assessment
  653  program pursuant to this section shall notify the Secretary of
  654  Environmental Protection, the Department of Health, and the
  655  applicable county health department upon the adoption of its
  656  ordinance establishing the program.
  657         (b) Upon receipt of the notice under paragraph (a), the
  658  Department of Environmental Protection shall, within existing
  659  resources, notify the county or municipality of the potential
  660  use of, and access to, program funds under the Clean Water State
  661  Revolving Fund or s. 319 of the Clean Water Act, provide
  662  guidance in the application process to receive such moneys, and
  663  provide advice and technical assistance to the county or
  664  municipality on how to establish a low-interest revolving loan
  665  program or how to model a revolving loan program after the low
  666  interest loan program of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.
  667  This paragraph does not obligate the Department of Environmental
  668  Protection to provide any county or municipality with money to
  669  fund such programs.
  670         (c) The Department of Health may not adopt any rule that
  671  alters the provisions of this section.
  672         (d) The Department of Health must allow county health
  673  departments and qualified contractors access to the
  674  environmental health database to track relevant information and
  675  assimilate data from assessment and evaluation reports of the
  676  overall condition of onsite sewage treatment and disposal
  677  systems. The environmental health database must be used by
  678  contractors to report each service and evaluation event and by a
  679  county health department to notify owners of onsite sewage
  680  treatment and disposal systems when evaluations are due. Data
  681  and information must be recorded and updated as service and
  682  evaluations are conducted and reported.
  683         (10) This section does not:
  684         (a) Limit county and municipal home rule authority to act
  685  outside the scope of the evaluation and assessment program set
  686  forth in this section;
  687         (b) Repeal or affect any other law relating to the subject
  688  matter of onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems; or
  689         (c) Prohibit a county or municipality from:
  690         1. Enforcing existing ordinances or adopting new ordinances
  691  relating to onsite sewage treatment facilities to address public
  692  health and safety if such ordinances do not repeal, suspend, or
  693  alter the requirements or limitations of this section.
  694         2. Adopting local environmental and pollution abatement
  695  ordinances for water quality improvement as provided for by law
  696  if such ordinances do not repeal, suspend, or alter the
  697  requirements or limitations of this section.
  698         3. Exercising its independent and existing authority to
  699  meet the requirements of s. 381.0065.
  700         Section 3. Section 381.00656, Florida Statutes, is
  701  repealed.
  702         Section 4. Subsection (2) of section 381.0066, Florida
  703  Statutes, is amended to read:
  704         381.0066 Onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems;
  705  fees.—
  706         (2) The minimum fees in the following fee schedule apply
  707  until changed by rule by the department within the following
  708  limits:
  709         (a) Application review, permit issuance, or system
  710  inspection, including repair of a subsurface, mound, filled, or
  711  other alternative system or permitting of an abandoned system: a
  712  fee of not less than $25, or more than $125.
  713         (b) A 5-year evaluation report submitted pursuant to s.
  714  381.0065(5): a fee not less than $15, or more than $30. At least
  715  $1 and no more than $5 collected pursuant to this paragraph
  716  shall be used to fund a grant program established under s.
  717  381.00656.
  718         (b)(c) Site evaluation, site reevaluation, evaluation of a
  719  system previously in use, or a per annum septage disposal site
  720  evaluation: a fee of not less than $40, or more than $115.
  721         (c)(d) Biennial Operating permit for aerobic treatment
  722  units or performance-based treatment systems: a fee of not more
  723  than $100.
  724         (d)(e) Annual operating permit for systems located in areas
  725  zoned for industrial manufacturing or equivalent uses or where
  726  the system is expected to receive wastewater which is not
  727  domestic in nature: a fee of not less than $150, or more than
  728  $300.
  729         (e)(f) Innovative technology: a fee not to exceed $25,000.
  730         (f)(g) Septage disposal service, septage stabilization
  731  facility, portable or temporary toilet service, tank
  732  manufacturer inspection: a fee of not less than $25, or more
  733  than $200, per year.
  734         (g)(h) Application for variance: a fee of not less than
  735  $150, or more than $300.
  736         (h)(i) Annual operating permit for waterless, incinerating,
  737  or organic waste composting toilets: a fee of not less than $15
  738  $50, or more than $30 $150.
  739         (i)(j) Aerobic treatment unit or performance-based
  740  treatment system maintenance entity permit: a fee of not less
  741  than $25, or more than $150, per year.
  742         (j)(k) Reinspection fee per visit for site inspection after
  743  system construction approval or for noncompliant system
  744  installation per site visit: a fee of not less than $25, or more
  745  than $100.
  746         (k)(l) Research: An additional $5 fee shall be added to
  747  each new system construction permit issued to be used to fund
  748  onsite sewage treatment and disposal system research,
  749  demonstration, and training projects. Five dollars from any
  750  repair permit fee collected under this section shall be used for
  751  funding the hands-on training centers described in s.
  752  381.0065(3)(j).
  753         (l)(m) Annual operating permit, including annual inspection
  754  and any required sampling and laboratory analysis of effluent,
  755  for an engineer-designed performance-based system: a fee of not
  756  less than $150, or more than $300.
  758  On or before January 1, 2011, the Surgeon General, after
  759  consultation with the Revenue Estimating Conference, shall
  760  determine a revenue neutral fee schedule for services provided
  761  pursuant to s. 381.0065(5) within the parameters set in
  762  paragraph (b). Such determination is not subject to the
  763  provisions of chapter 120. The funds collected pursuant to this
  764  subsection must be deposited in a trust fund administered by the
  765  department, to be used for the purposes stated in this section
  766  and ss. 381.0065 and 381.00655.
  767         Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.