Updated Sewage Treatment Plants


The Iron Bridge Sewage Treatment Plant in Orlando already meets the EPA limits.
The Iron Bridge Sewage Treatment Plant in Orlando
already meets the EPA limits.

Much of the problem can be solved by modernizing old, outdated sewage treatment plants. While some sewage plants – like the huge Iron Bridge Wastewater Treatment Plant in Orlando – already meet EPA’s new pollution limits, many others are so outdated that the water they dump into rivers is ten times higher than the EPA’s limits. Some pollut-ing industries claim that it will take over $50 billion to upgrade our sewage treatment plants to comply with the new rules. These claims are nothing more than a scare tac-tic. In fact, upgrading all the sewage treatment plants in the entire Unit-ed States (including federal grants, state contributions, and leveraged bonds) from 1988 to 2007 cost $58 billion. The polluters’ erroneous $50 billion claim is based on the idea that all Florida plants will have to treat by reverse osmosis – the pricey method Saudi Arabia uses to convert sea water to fresh water. That is not required by EPA’s new limits. Outdated and poorly per-forming wastewater treatment plants will have to be updated and upgraded.

That needs to be done because these plants are now allowed to dump effluent that hasn’t been filtered and treated very well — and we are all paying the price for that pollution.

Some Florida sewage plants, in fact, have no permit limits on their phosphorus and nitrogen discharges at all. Others with spray fields in North and Central Florida will need much better treatment for nitrogen and phosphorus because of the numerous underground connections to groundwater, springs, and rivers. Now that we better understand the science of groundwater, Florida needs to prevent nitrogen and phosphorus from contaminating it.

The new standards will also be phased in as permits come up for renewal. So instead of the scary numbers polluters claim, it is more likely to cost a few dollars extra per person per month phased in over several years. The alternative of not establishing pollution limits for our streams, lakes and estuaries will only make the problems worse and endanger the safety of our drinking water and the health of our families.