The DeSoto County Department of Health’s Environmental Health
Division issues permits for new, replacement and additions to septic
systems. We also evaluate existing systems for compliance with all
local and state laws and ordinances, as needed.
Sewage Disposal Programs
There are 3 types of sewage disposal programs currently available in
1. Onsite Waste (Basic Septic) Systems
2. Department of Environmental Protection Package Plants
3. City and County Utilities
Services for onsite waste systems are conducted at the Environmental
Health Office located at 34 South Baldwin Avenue, Arcadia, Florida. This office
receives and processes applications for new, repair, and
modification of Onsite Waste (Basic Septic) Systems.
Environmental Specialists design new systems, repair current systems
and review septic tank permit applications, which have been prepared
by registered engineers and septic tank contractors to ensure that
systems, as proposed, will meet the requirements of the State of
Florida and DeSoto County. All septic tank installations in DeSoto
County are inspected by qualified Environmental Health staff.
In areas zoned for industrial or manufacturing activities, the
public health department
protect residents from unlawful business practices, we
recommend that home owners get Two Estimates for
any suggested repairs on septic systems.
evaluates the potential for each new
business to introduce toxic chemicals into their septic system and
determines that proper handling and disposal procedures are in place
prior to the business being granted a Certificate of Occupancy or an
Occupational License by the County Building or Zoning Departments.
Baseline "Basic" Septic Tank Operation
Basic Septic Tank Systems are a viable alternative for waste water
processing. Like any other device, septic tanks must be properly
installed, maintained, and repaired. Literature verifies that the
average life of a septic tank with acidic water conditions, as we
often find in DeSoto County is between 25 to 30 years due to the
action of Hydrogen Sulfide Gas on the concrete surface.
Basic septic tanks systems consist of the tank, a distribution box,
and the drain field. Older tanks are one chambered, while newer ones
have two chambers. The waste water from the home enters the tank
through the inlet pipe. The waste water is allowed to settle, with a
desired retention time of at least two days. During this period the
heavier material settles to a layer called sludge, while the lighter
materials including oils and grease, form an upper layer called the
Anaerobic Bacteria (oxygen hating) work on the sludge breaking down
the material so that most of it will eventually wind up in solution
and be able to move out the outlet pipe into the distribution box
and then the drain field. The tank has to be properly sized
according to the occupant load and the computed resultant daily
flow. The proper sizing will allow the required retention time for
the biological processing.
The drain field is designed to gradually percolate the waste water
through the properly placed soil type that allows mineral and
bacterial processing prior to the effluent reaching the ground water
table. The drain field is sized to match the estimated daily flow
from the tank.
The build up of scum and sludge in the tank is dependent on the
daily flow and the composition of the waste. The five year
inspection and pump out program takes into account nation wide data
that was compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency, and
incorporated in technical transmissions to State Governments and the
publishing of the “ A Homeowner’s Guide to Septic Systems.
Home owners can help maintain their septic systems by ensuring that
they never put any of the following items down any drain leading to
the septic tank:
• Disposable Diapers
• Chemicals such as photo chemicals, paints, thinners, oils,
varnishes, pesticides, used motor oil, cooking oils.
• Cigarette butts and Coffee Grounds.
• Any type of soil or dirt.
• Drugs and Medicines.
• Kitty Litter.
• Condoms, gloves paper towels, panty liners, sanitary napkins and
• Trash and scraps.
• Water in large quantities can overload the system. Monitor roof
gutters and surface runoff.
• Hair and washing machine lint can also build up in the system.
• Dish wash machines and clothes washers can also overload a system
if extra guests are visiting.
The periodic inspection and pump out of a septic tank can help save
the homeowner from expensive repairs to the drain field. That
program will also ensure that present and future generations have
clean usable potable and recreational waters.
Septic System Dilemmas
This is an example of a complete failure.
The drain field is not
accepting effluent, which results in surface spill and backup into
Tank inspections are very important since we typically cannot see
what’s happening underground on a daily basis.
Corrosion and the effects of Hydrogen Sulfide Gas can be seen below:
Drain Field Failures are hazardous to our own health and the
environmental around us.
This is a prime example of a drain field failure, as evidenced by
visible sewage on the lawn.