Red tide and algal blooms closed beaches in Florida last year. Some experts say septic systems are worsening those sorts of environmental problems. (AP/Lynne Sladky)

After Toxic Beaches and Waterways, Florida Eyes Septic Tank Upgrades

Officials increasingly want to move away from underground waste storage systems, which can leak chemicals that fuel toxic algal blooms. Nearly 2 in 5 Floridians rely on septic tanks instead of sewer systems. The waste disposal tanks could be doing serious harm to the state's fragile ecosystem. Replacing septic tanks would cost an estimated $3.3 billion for Miami-Dade County alone.

When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gave his inaugural speech earlier this month, he channeled Winston Churchill to rally Floridians to join the fight for clean water.

“I will lead the efforts to save our waterways,” the Republican governor vowed, citing a long list of natural disasters that have plagued Florida’s rivers, lakes and coastal waters, many just in the last year. Floridians have recently had to contend with red tide in the Gulf of Mexico, toxic and slimy blue-green algae in the state's rivers, and brown sargassum seaweed off the Atlantic Coast.

“We will fight toxic blue-green algae,” DeSantis said. “We will fight discharges from Lake Okeechobee, we will fight red tide, we will fight for our fishermen, we will fight for our beaches, we will fight to restore our Everglades and we will never ever quit, we won’t be cowed and we won’t let the foot draggers stand in our way. We resolve to leave Florida to God better than we found it."

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