I-TEAM: City working on new legislation to replace more septic tanks

Legislation targets at least $100M & could go as high as $250M

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For the years, the News4Jax I-TEAM pointed out the broken promise by the city to repair and replace old and broken septic tanks.

Now the I-TEAM has learned the Jacksonville City Council and the mayor’s office are going to introduce more legislation that targets at least $100 million and could go as high as $250 million to continue to fix the problem.

The city and JEA have started work in the Biltmore neighborhood in Northwest Jacksonville. They are installing sewer lines where homes currently using septic tanks will be able to hook up by the end of the year. Homeowner Vern Thomas is not sold on the idea.

“You are damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” Thomas said.

He adds his septic is working and believes this will just lead to another monthly bill from JEA.

According to the city, 65,000 septic tanks need to be replaced -- not just on the Northside but all over Jacksonville.

That is why City Council President Tommy Hazouri, along with other City Council members and the mayor, is now working on new legislation that will address more neighborhoods.

The next target is homes in the Riverview neighborhood off of Lem Turner Road near the Ribault River. It will cost about $100 million just to tackle the 1,800 septic tanks that need to be replaced.

Hazouri said he promised to make septic tanks a priority.

“If everybody knows me, that was the first thing I said that our top priority was address the septic tank issue. And we are. We are not just going to kick the can down the road,” Hazouri said. “When I leave this council, I want to know that we have money in the bank to really keeping our word and fulfilling our promise for removing septic tanks or improving them.”

RELATED: Plan calls for $100M to remove septic tanks in underserved neighborhoods | City, JEA commit $26.8M to continue septic tank phaseouts | City Council approves $26 million for septic tank phaseouts

On Wednesday, the City Council and the mayor’s office will release more information about the cost and the five-year plan. They will also show how this will work side by side with a proposed increase in the gas tax. That gas tax money can’t be used on septic tanks but could free up other city dollars that will go to the program.

Mayor Lenny Curry’s Chief of Staff Jordan Elsbury weighed in the septic tank proposal.

“We know it’s a multigenerational, billion-dollar problem,” Elsbury said.

He adds that JEA is commissioning a study to see if there is a more cost-efficient way to tackle that issue.

“Right now these people have been waiting for septic tanks for decades, and we’ve finally identified a solution,” Elsbury said.

It’s a solution that could end up costing the city hundreds of millions over the years.

A special meeting is set for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday with the City Council and will address the issue of the gas tax and separate legislation for septic tanks.

In February, the city released this list of Jacksonville neighborhoods where septic tanks need to be phased out:

  1. Biltmore C in Northwest Jacksonville (under construction) 351 septic tanks
  2. Beverly Hills in Northwest Jacksonville: 755 septic tanks
  3. Christobel in Northwest Jacksonville: 509 septic tanks
  4. Riverview in Northwest Jacksonville: 1,812 septic tanks
  5. St. Nicholas on Southside: 623 septic tanks
  6. Emerson off Emerson Street on Southside: 751 septic tanks
  7. Champion Forest on Westside: 610 septic tanks
  8. Eggleston Heights in Arlington: 3,416 septic tanks
  9. Julington Creek in Mandarin: 2,000 septic tanks
  10. Oak Lawn on Southside: 230 septic tanks
  11. Atlantic Highlands in Intracoastal West: 102
  12. Kinard in Northwest Jacksonville: 81 septic tanks
  13. Westfield in Ortega: 135 septic tanks
  14. Sans Pareil on Southside: 211 septic tanks
  15. Empire Point on Southside: 342 septic tanks
  16. Cedar River on Westside: 386 septic tanks
  17. Spring Glen on Southside: 485 septic tanks
  18. Lakeshore on Westside: 1,344 septic tanks
  19. Freeman Road/Inwood Terrace on Southside: 95 septic tanks
  20. Oakhaven on Southside: 790 septic tanks
  21. Mill Creek in Arlington: 435 septic tanks
  22. Lone Star Park in Arlington: 321 septic tanks
  23. Julington Hills in Mandarin: 617 septic tanks
  24. Holly Oaks in Arlington: 282 septic tanks
  25. Northlake on Northside: 121 septic tanks
  26. Hood Landing II in Mandarin: 509 septic tanks
  27. Point La Vista on Southside: 830 septic tanks
  28. Beauclerc Gardens in Mandarin: 530 septic tanks
  29. Southside Estates on Southside: 2,305 septic tanks
  30. Clifton in Arlington: 524 septic tanks
  31. Ortega: 167 septic tanks
  32. Odessa in Northwest Jacksonville: 36 septic tanks
  33. The Cape on the Northside: 40 septic tanks
  34. Mt. Pleasant in East Arlington: 439 septic tanks
  35. Pablo Point in Intracoastal West: 238 septic tanks

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