Category Archives: Septic vs. Sewer

Septic Tanks in Southwest Florida: A Sound Environmental Choice

Save waterWhen people hear the words septic, some automatically have negative associations.  Whether it’s from information they’ve gathered from the news or from their neighbor’s neglected (and stinky) septic system, it’s easy to be misinformed on the environmental impact of a well-maintained system. Here in Southwest Florida, there is a citywide project underway that is set to place many homes on city sewer.  This is frustrating for people who are not only uninterested in the cost it will take to be placed on city sewer, but also because of the negative environmental impact of city sewage.

Septic systems get blamed for a lot of the environmental issues that occur in our waterways throughout the nation.  Issues can and do pop up with water quality and septic systems when one is overdue for maintenance and a pump-out.  A neglected system can wreak havoc on the groundwater and put those who use that water at risk for illness or death.  However, this impact from a single home is often minimal in comparison to the benefits of a well-maintained system. These systems are incredibly efficient and can also be a great way to decrease your carbon footprint.

It is top-of-mind these days on what measures can be taken to reduce one’s carbon footprint.  Septic systems are just one way to lower your impact and help your community.  Take a look at some of the environmental benefits of septic system use:

No Blue Green Algae
Here in Florida, septic tanks often take the blame for the issue of green algae in our lovely waterways. The truth is that wastewater treatment plants are the largest contributor to this issue.  As we’ve mentioned before, 78% of Clean Water Act enforcements from 2006-2011 were against municipal wastewater systems.

This algae not only smells terrible, but it also causes respiratory issues, poisons the fish, decreases waterfront property values and can be deadly to those who come into contact with it. What causes this algae issue? Increased levels of nitrogen and phosphorus from the presence of pollutants, sewage, manure and fertilizer caused by wastewater being dumped into the Florida waterways.

Restore the Water Table

According to North Georgia Environmental Services, Americans send two trillion gallons of water to the oceans every single week through by being hooked up to city sewer.  This is causing our water stores to drop to dangerous levels.  When properly maintained, septic tank systems healthfully restore your local water table.  This helps to ensure your community holds on to it’s most precious resource – it’s water.

Much More Efficient
According to CircleofBlue.org, approximately 80% of municipal water processing and distribution costs are for electricity.  It takes a lot of power to take in wastewater and generate a single glass of crystal clear drinking water.  It’s so easy to let the responsibility of clean water to sit on the shoulders of the government, but the fact is that it takes a lot of resources and harms the environment by polluting our waterways.

From processing to pump-out, septic systems use much less energy than wastewater treatment plants.

Septic systems have gotten a bad rep over the years for being the main contributor to issues in local water sources, when the majority of the environmental issues are caused by large wastewater treatment facilities.  By watching your own water usage and ensuring that your septic system is well maintained, you are helping to preserve your community’s water supply, as well as your own carbon footprint.

To get more information on septic system installation or to schedule an inspection, please contact us.

The Rising Cost of Sewage in Southwest Florida

rising sewage costAre you seeing a hike in your sewage rates each year? Chances are you answered yes to that question and you’re not alone; according to Mary Beth Nevulis from Storm Water Solutions, people all over the country are seeing a spike in their sewer charges. On average, sewer charges for homes in the U.S. increased by 5.5percent in 2013 to $435 per year. What’s more, it is expected that sewer costs will increase by 5 percent every year for the next five years.

Things are no different in Southwest Florida.  According to the City of Cape Coral, sewer costs currently sit at $9.04 per every 1,000 gallons of water used.  The EPA states that the average U.S. household uses a whopping 400 gallons of water per day. Based on those numbers, the annual cost for sewage in Cape Coral is just over $1,300 and these rates are set to increase in October. Cape Coral also has a current initiative to place all properties within the city limits onto city water and sewage at the homeowner’s expense. If your home isn’t connected, it’s going to cost between $18,000 and $35,000.

In addition to hikes in cost, the environmental impact of being hooked up to the city sewer system is also something to consider.  In an article by the North Georgia Environmental Services, they share how sewage treatment plants are depleting and harming the water supply.

The damages to our shore and coastlines have gone up almost 600% in the last fifteen years where these plants were built because they reduce, not eliminate, contaminates in wastewater.  These mechanized facilities also experience a fair number of breakdowns; every year, billions of gallons of raw sewage are dumped into our waterways because of overloading, pump failures, pipe breaks, etc.   

But it is the third issue that everyone should examine closely: we are running out of water.  Every day, cities and suburbs draw billions of gallons of water from local aquifers (temporarily stored in water towers and reservoirs), where it is sent to the homes and businesses.  This contaminated water is then sent to a treatment facility; however, rather than returning it to the aquifers where it came from, it is discharged to a river that leads to the ocean.” 

They go on to mention that Florida, specifically the southern parts of the state, is seeing a huge environmental impact.

It wasn’t that long ago Florida had too much water; but today, in the southern portion of the state, groundwater has been pumped out in such massive amounts (faster than rain has replenished it) that the water tables have dropped below sea level, which allows salt water to intrude into the fresh-water supplies.  As a result, thousands of domestic and municipal wells have been contaminated and rendered permanently unusable.”

If you’ve considered making the switch to a septic system or have thought about switching over to city sewer, here are some of the cost and environmental benefits of being on a septic system.

The Cost Benefits are Huge
As mentioned before, being connected to the city sewer system can be pretty costly and the price is increasing annually.  The average cost to connect a home to a septic system is between $5,000 and $15,000.  For optimal maintenance, it’s best to have your tank pumped every 3 to 5 years.  At Crews, the cost for a pumpout starts at $295.  This cost is small potatoes compared to the annual cost of city sewer.

Your Environmental Impact Goes Way Down
If maintained properly, septic systems last indefinitely and help to recharge the local water tables.  Instead of depleting your town of its most valuable resource – its water – you are contributing to its preservation for generations to come.  Septic systems are also far more efficient than wastewater treatment plants. As we’ve stated before, an estimated $4 Billion is spent annually on energy costs to run drinking water and wastewater utilities.  Septic systems improve your carbon footprint by using much less energy.

As long as a septic system is well-maintained, the benefits are insurmountable compared to city sewer in both cost and environmental impact. If you live in southwest Florida and need more information on your septic pumpouts, click here for a $25.00 coupon.

 

Conserving Energy & Wastewater Recycling: Supporting Septic Infrastructure

septic expertsAs we continue to explore factors for a greener and more sustainable way of life – its important to look at the conservation of energy, efficient energy consumption and how these factors affect our environment and wallet when it comes to wastewater management. Wastewater recycling via onsite septic systems is without a doubt the most efficient, green and cost effective way to manage and process wastewater – but if you’re looking for some detailed statistics to help support a reliance on septic versus public wastewater facilities, there is a significant amount of compelling data to support decentralized wastewater management facilities.

Energy Efficiency in Public Wastewater Facilities.
The global energy crisis is a reality that governments have yet to come up with a viable solution for. With oil prices soaring and global supply limited, it’s crucial that we make changes in our utility and production operations in order to conserve this limited resource. Within public wastewater facilities, energy represents nearly 30% of the total operational and management costs. While the EPA has developed an Energy Use Assessment Tool to better manage the energy consumed by these locations, the majority of these assessments are made from non-process information such as HVAC improvements or electrical efficiency rather than the delivery of wastewater to the treatment facility. The cost of transporting wastewater from the home or business to a treatment facility makes up for more than 12% of energy requirements. Another 55% of the energy requirements go to aeration and solids processing at the wastewater treatment facility. That is almost 70% of the total energy budget, representing about $3 billion annually.

Cost of Energy.
An estimated $4 Billion is spent annually on energy costs to run drinking water and wastewater utilities. This number is equivalent to 56 billion kilowatt hours of energy. Beyond the scarce energy factor, the cost of managing these facilities is passed on to the user in the form of utility bills and sewer expenses. With no control over the efficiency of how these facilities are managed, homeowners are subject to the energy standards and operating costs of the municipal facility.

Goals of the EPA.
The EPA is taking action to try to better identify energy consumption issues and increase efficiency in public wastewater facilities. These actions include: evaluating existing power consumption, mechanical system audits, electrical system audits and process system audits.

While government programs will go a long way towards the management and efficiency of public wastewater management facilities, the cost of the energy itself and the environmental impact of these large facilities are a huge factor to consider when making your decision on septic vs city sewer wastewater management options. Septic systems have been known to greatly reduce the carbon footprint of wastewater management by using less energy, recharging the groundwater and reducing environmental impacts.

For more information on septic systems and septic maintenance, contact Crews Environmental. 239.332.1986 or visit www.crewsenvironmental.com

Septic vs. Sewer: Cost Comparisons

While some continue to debate the pros and cons of septic vs. sewer, when it comes to cost comparison of city sewer vs. septic systems – septic always wins. As we have discussed many times in the past, maintenance for septic systems only requires septic tank pump outs every 3 to 5 years. The cost for pumpouts ranges from $250 to $500.

However, those connected to city sewer to manage their wastewater pay monthly bills for service to and from their home in addition to assessments for connections and repairs. We recently saw an article published in the Miami Herald about a $1 billion dollar repair bill to repair a crumbling sewer system in Miami-Dade county. According to a study quoted in the article, “Miami-Dade County’s two sewage plants and nearly 14,000 miles of pipelines are so outdated it would take $1.1 billion just to replace the most deteriorated and vulnerable section of the system.”

Read the full report on the condition of the sewer system here.

How will the county pay for these repairs? The article states that they will rely on rate hikes for the majority of the revenue. Compare the growing monthly bill for public utilities to your minimal maintenance with a septic system and you can quickly see why septic wins the cost comparison argument.

Arguments stack up in favor of a self-reliant septic system. Septic systems are growing in popularity because of their decreased cost and environmental control in comparison to city sewer.

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Educating you on Septic Tank Maintenance in Southwest Florida

Yesterday I saw an editorial in the News-Press criticizing newly signed legislation in regards to septic tank maintenance. The author questioned the need for mandatory septic inspections every 3 to 5 years, stating that they were unnecessary. It’s important to us to educate our clients, friends and the community on the importance of Septic Tank Maintenance in Southwest Florida and understand the facts when it comes to septic tanks.

According to the author:

“The big polluters of our waterways were, and still are, runoff from golf courses, livestock, farms and municipal waste treatment plants, just to name a few. The list of polluters is long before you get down to septic tanks. A booklet I read on septic tanks from Florida State University stated that a properly working septic system is more efficient than a municipal waste treatment system.

Click here to read the full editorial from the News-Press website.

Improperly maintained septic tanks can wreak havoc on our waterways and groundwater sources.

Here is my response to the article:

As a Southwest Florida resident and environmental legislation supporter for the last 30 years, I am aware of the value of a properly maintained and functioning septic system for both the homeowner and our Southwest Florida waterways. EPA guidelines suggest that septic systems should be inspected at least every 3 years by a professional.. Have your tank pumped as recommended by the inspector (generally every 3 to 5 years).

(Read more about EPA guidelines for septic tanks here: http://www.epa.gov/owm/septic/pubs/homeowner_guide_long.pdf)

Its important to understand that a poorly maintained septic system can contaminate groundwater, result in costly drainfield repairs, or be a legal liability. While poorly maintained septic systems sit low on the list of contaminants (and are often scapegoats for bigger pollution sources), I sincerely believe that it is our responsibility to Southwest Florida waterways to maintain our septic system infrastructure. We, as a community, have come together on many other environmental concerns, including littering and the conservation of natural resources. While an individual may not have a significant impact on improving the quality of our waterways, if all 25% of homeowners utilizing septic tanks maintained their tank on a regular basis it would help insure that 21 Million gallons of wastewater per day are not a source of pollution. Properly maintained Septic Systems are:  Healthy, Environmentally Sound and Economically efficient wastewater treatment methods to protect Southwest Florida’s fragile environment. 

Take a moment to educate yourself about septic tank maintenance by visiting our website. If you’re overdue for a septic tank pump out in Southwest Florida, or you’re unsure of when the last one was performed, please contact us.

Sign up for our newsletter to get a FREE $25.00 coupon and stay informed on the legislation and how it will affect septic tank owners in our area.

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The Importance of Sewer and Septic Maintenance in Southwest Florida

 

Improperly Maintained Septic Systems Cause Backups in Home or Plug Drainfield

Southwest Florida Septic Maintenance can mean life-long reliance on the same system for your wastewater needs, resulting in a cost-effective, self-sufficient water treatment option for as long as you remain in your home. Improper maintenance of septic systems can be damaging to your home and the environment. It is this failed maintenance that has required many city governments to step in and require costly hookups to city sewer and public utilities, resulting in hundreds of thousands in sewer assessments (as has been the situation locally in Cape Coral). The costly hookups to sewer facilities have ignored current infrastructure, which, if properly maintained, could safely and efficiently manage wastewater disposal and save hundreds of thousands for many residents in the area.

Septic vs. Sewer – what’s the difference? Both septic and sewer systems function the same way. Your wastewater from showers, toilets, disposals and laundry flows out of your plumbing and into a holding tank, which gets treated by micro-organisms before the clean water is released back into the environment. With septic, your own wastewater is recycled and treated at your own home, whereas public sewer lines run together and are treated at one large off-site facility that treats water from many homes.

Lifespan & Environmental Impact. Each type of system, if improperly maintained, can leak and discharge raw sewage materials into the environment either at your home (septic systems) or on a larger scale (sewer systems). Sewer systems generally can go 20 years before requiring major repairs, whereas properly maintained septic systems can last indefinitely.

Cost comparison. Over the life of a septic system (which costs around $15,000 to install), homeowners pay every 3-5 years for septic pump-outs at $250-$500. This cost is generally significantly less than paying for a monthly sewer bill.

Which option is right for me? Your home may already be connected to public sewer, or have existing septic systems that treat your water. Your municipality may require that your home hookup to public utilities. However, if you have a choice – it’s important to consider all of the environmental impact issues , costs and requirements associated with each system prior to making your decision.

If you’re looking for help with Southwest Florida septic maintenance, or are unsure which option is best for your family’s wastewater needs, contact the septic service experts at Crews Environmental and get guidance for all your septic and wastewater needs.

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