Frequently Asked Questions

What is Domestic Wastewater?
Every time you flush your toilet, wash your hands, turn on the dishwasher or do your laundry, you are creating domestic wastewater. Before 1950, all domestic wastewater was disposed of through septic systems or direct discharge of treated waste to area waterways. Today, while some Broward residents still use septic tanks, most households are connected through the sanitary sewers to a local utility's sewage treatment plant. Maintenance of the lateral pipe running from the home to sewer service and/or of a septic system is generally the homeowner's responsibility (Permitting information: laterals - contact your local wastewater utility by locating your sanitary sewer provider on the environmental atlas; septic systems - contact the Broward County Branch of the Florida Department of Health at (954) 467-4700 for maintenance information or a construction permit). The Environmental Engineering and Permitting Division's Domestic Wastewater Program licenses all facilities downstream of the lateral including sanitary sewer pipes, pumps, and treatment plants in Broward County .

Who handles my sewer service?
In Broward County, 28 different utilities direct domestic wastewater (sewage) to 17 wastewater treatment plants. A map of the sanitary sewer service areas can be found in the environmental atlas.

What is the difference between sanitary sewers and storm water sewers?
Under the streets of Broward County is a maze of pipes. Each pipe is specially coded for its function and sized to meet the service needs of a given area. Sanitary sewers convey wastewater (domestic sewage, wash water, and anything else you put down the drain in your home) to a local utility's sewage treatment plant. A pipe from your home (lateral) connects to a larger pipe (gravity main) in the street, alley or other utility easement. Maintenance of the lateral is generally the homeowner's responsibility. The contents of the gravity main flow to a lift station which pumps the wastewater into a force main. Under pressure, the sewage is conveyed to the treatment plant. The system is constructed to protect the public health by preventing untreated sewage from leaking out into the environment.

Unlike the sanitary sewer system, the storm water sewer system is an open system designed to collect water and prevent flooding. Grates, gutters and outfalls in the roads convey rainfall to large gravity pipes which eventually lead to a wet retention area, canal, lake or other surface water body. Some municipalities do use pumps in low-lying areas to move standing water and prevent flooding.

Both of these systems are designed for a specific purpose, are meant to be kept separate, and will not function properly if foreign objects are introduced. Occasionally, homeowner's sewage pipes are illegally connected to the storm water system. This leads to pollution of our waterways. Introduction of storm water into the sanitary sewer system overwhelms the treatment plant, reduces the effectiveness of the treatment and threatens public health and it is illegal. Never dispose of debris or chemicals down your home drains. Likewise never dump or dispose of anything down a storm drain as it is against the County Code to discharge into waters of the County. For more information about safe disposal of most household chemicals, contact the Waste and Recycling Services (WRS) at their Household Hazardous Waste HOTLINE at (954) 765-4999.

How do I find out about your regulations?
The Environmental Engineering and Permitting Division is governed by Chapter 27 of the Broward County Code of Ordinances. Most of the Water Resources Management Regulations are contained in Article V of this chapter. Chapter 27 can be accessed electronically here.

Applications: The Domestic Wastewater program licenses three activities:

  1. Construction of Domestic Wastewater Collection/Transmission Systems;
  2. Completion of Construction of Domestic Wastewater Collection/Transmission Systems; and
  3. Notice of Intent to use General Permit for Wastewater Collection/Transmission Systems.

Those interested in obtaining a permit for reuse distribution systems should fill out the standard permit for collection/transmission systems. Applications are available electronically and include the fee schedule for licensing. Guidance documents on completing the Wastewater Collection/Transmission System Construction License Application and Notification Procedures for Reporting Wastewater Facility Spills are also provided.

Local Utility Flows:

New developments and redevelopment projects in Broward County must make a domestic wastewater capacity reservation at the local utility Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) prior to building new structures. The Environmental Engineering and Permitting Division tracks existing flows to the WWTP as well as capacity reserved for new development. When a utility's total % capacity is 90% or more, development interests need to closely coordinate with the utility in their service area to determine if additional treatment or disposal capacity will be available in the future.

The Wastewater Treatment Plant Flows vs. Permitted Capacity table contains the actual wastewater flow information recorded and submitted by WWTPs. Added to these flows are the committed wastewater flow generation estimates for their service areas. These flow estimates are retrieved from the construction permit applications received at the Building Department for the respective WWTP service areas. The summed wastewater flows are presented in comparison with the permitted capacity. This table will be updated quarterly.

Wastewater Treatment Plant Flows vs. Permitted Capacity (WORD)

What is Surface Water Management?
Many of the earlier developments in Broward County were built on filled wetlands with storm sewers or ditches draining directly from the streets to our local waterways. Houses and businesses often flooded and untreated storm runoff impacted water quality on our canals and rivers. Today, regulatory criteria for surface water management systems serving developments are set to provide adequate flood control (water quantity) and remove pollutants from storm runoff (water quality). Surface water management (drainage) systems can contain storm drains, street gutters, weirs, sluice gates, dams, pumps, swales, French drains (a.k.a. exfiltration trenches), culverts, drainage wells, dry retention areas, and storm runoff treatment lakes or wetlands. A combination of these facilities is typically utilized to design a surface water management system to meet water quality and water quantity criteria. The Environmental Engineering and Permitting Division's Surface Water Management Program licenses new developments and major redevelopment projects in those areas of the county outside of independent drainage districts (please see the map of drainage districts on the environmental atlas).

When is a Broward County license necessary for mangrove trimming?
All mangrove trimming/alterations require a Broward County Environmental Resource License (ERL). County licensing fees apply.

Are there any mangrove trimming licensing exemptions for Broward County?
Broward County does not have any exemptions for mangrove trimming. 

Do I also need a state permit for mangrove trimming from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP)?
Broward County has been delegated by FDEP to regulate mangrove state trimming permits. If a state trimming permit is needed it would be issued concurrently with the county license. State permitting fees would apply in addition to the county licensing fees.

Who do I call for questions about mangrove trimming?
To get more information on licensing requirements contact the Broward County Aquatic and Wetlands Resources Program at 954-519-1483.

Do I need a professional mangrove trimmer?
A professional mangrove trimmer must either supervise or conduct all trimming of trees that exceed 10 feet in height. 

Who is a professional mangrove trimmer?
The following persons are considered professional mangrove trimmers: ISA certified arborists; professional wetland scientists certified by the Society of Wetland Scientists; certified ecologists certified by the Ecological Society of America and other qualified individuals; certified environmental professionals, certified by the Academy of Board Certified Environmental Professionals.

Required Plug-ins:PDF iconAdobe® Reader® Word Reader icon  Microsoft Office Reader®