Saving Biscayne Bay: New mayor outlines ‘very costly’ plan to get rid of septic tanks

MIAMI – As part of her commitment to protecting Biscayne Bay, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava has a new plan to start converting septic tanks in Miami-Dade County, but she warns that it is “very costly.”

Levine Cava sent the 111-page Plan of Action Report to Miami-Dade County commissioners on Thursday reporting a wholesale septic tank conversion is estimated to cost more than $4 billion.

“We are all going to move forward together because there is no time to waste,” Levine Cava said.

There are about 120,000 septic tanks in Miami-Dade. The county estimates each homeowner’s expense ranges from about $7,500 to $40,000.

Levine Cava wants to implement several programs to aid in the transition including a septic tank registration program and financing opportunities to help homeowners cover the cost with the support of taxpayers.

“We need a path forward that doesn’t unfairly saddle our homeowners with too much of the cost,” Levine Cava said.

Her plan recommends prioritizing the connection to the sanitary sewer system where there are septic tanks that are most vulnerable to failure, including those in flood-prone areas due to sea-level rise.

A 2019 report that is attached to her plan identifies about 9,000 septic tanks vulnerable to failure in 2020, and 13,500 more that could fail by 2040. These would take priority in the phased approach, which Levine Cava hopes will have state and federal support to help cover the cost.

Related story: Saving Biscayne Bay: Miami-Dade’s septic tanks have to go, scientist says

About the Authors:

Louis Aguirre is an Emmy-award winning journalist who anchors weekday newscasts and serves as WPLG Local 10’s Environmental Advocate.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.