ACE's Guide to Florida’s Onsite Septic System Regulations

Everything you need to know about proper septic system compliance.

Why Florida Takes Extra Precautions

Florida sits on an aquifer—essentially an underground rock filled with water—that supplies 90% of our state’s drinking water. We need to protect it all costs, which is why there are rules and regulations homeowners must follow for septic tank installation. 

Chart with a background photo from the Florida everglades. On top is a white chart showing the states Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. All of Florida and the lower portions of Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina are covered in a gray color that indicates by they key "buried underground aquifer." There are a few light brown spots in Florida, Alabama, and Georgia that indicate above ground aquifer.

Use the jump links below to access any specific section of this guide:

General Information

30% of Florida’s population uses private septic systems, often referred to as onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems (OSTDS). The maximum disposal quantity for an OSTDS is 5,000 gallons per day, though the average homeowner disposes less than 100 gallons per day.

If an OSTDS is disposing less than 5,000 gallons per day, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) is the governing entity responsible for establishing, monitoring, and enforcing Florida’s septic tank regulations. This includes initiating any permit for a new septic system installation, and maintaining a uniform code that exists to protect our drinking water.

Two workers are installing a drain field as part of a residential septic system.

New Septic System Installation

To install a new septic system, an application must get submitted showing the site plan, the intended layout of the septic tank and drainfield on the property, and a soil test showing the soil percolation efficacy.

Although homeowners can submit the application themselves, it will still require signed authorization from a licensed contractor like ACE. Homeowners can save themselves a lot of time by using ACE to submit the application on their behalf. We know the process, the rules, and are fully certified.

Mound Systems and Dosing Tanks

You may learn during the permit and inspection process that your property requires a mound system. A mound system is an elevated drain field required if your property is not able to keep enough separation between a traditional drainfield and the highest point of the water table during the wet season. The degree of separation differs depending on when your house was built:

  • House built before 1983: 6-inch separation required
  • Built between 1983-1995: 12-inch separation required
  • Built after 1995: 24-inch separation required
A graphic demonstrating the seasonal variance of the water table in Florida.

A dosing tank may also be required if the slope of your property is not sufficient in moving the effluent from the septic tank to the drainfield. The required slope is ¼ inch per square foot. An inspection can help determine whether your property requires a dosing tank and/or a mound system.

License Requirements

The State of Florida must approve a contractor before they can perform septic system work. These regulations are in place to ensure each contractor keeps the aquifer as its first priority when performing any installation, maintenance, or emergency response. An annual license renewal is also required so that the DOH feels confident that the contractors remain compliant with Florida septic tank regulations.

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Florida Septic System Regulations

This section will cover the nuanced regulations that each septic system must abide by. It’s helpful for homeowners to be aware of these regulations and work with a contractor like ACE to have the best chance of getting an application approved.

Photograph of green trees, green lawn, and gray paved road. A large purple septic pumping truck is parked with a green hose connected from its tank to a septic tank hole.

OSTDS = onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems

  • Any OSTDS must be a minimum of 75 feet away from any surface water or multi-family or private well.
  • An OSTDS must be placed at least 10 feet away from storm water pipes.
  • An OSTDS must be set 11 feet away from water storage tanks or groundwater, unless waterproof sealants have been properly applied.
    • If waterproof sealants are employed then the water line cannot come within 24 inches of the OSTDS.
    • If waterproof sealants have been applied then check valves must be installed within 24 inches to prevent contamination.
  • An OSTDS must be at least 15 feet from a water retention area or ditch.
  • An OSTDS must be 75 feet from the flood line of non-tidal surface water.
  • An OSTDS must be 75 feet from the high-water line of tidal surface water.
  • An OSTDS must abide by the sizing requirements based on the residential property it serves.
  • An OSTDS must be at least 15 feet from groundwater interceptor drains.
  • An OSTDS must be 200 feet from an in-service public well disposing of more than 2,000 gallons per day.
  • An OSTSD is not allowed to sit under a building.
  • An OSTSD must be at least 5 feet from mobile homes, building foundations, swimming pools, and property lines.
  • The location of the OSTDS may not be on an easement.
  • The location of the OSTDS may not contain underground utilities.

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