I-TEAM: State, city investigating after construction site runoff seen in Southside creek

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The News4Jax I-TEAM is getting involved after Southside residents said they are worried about what could be illegal dumping in their waterways.

Video from a neighbor’s drone shows what appears to be runoff from a nearby construction site entering Pottsburg Creek near Beach Boulevard and Hogan Road.

Now the city and state are looking into what’s going on as crews at the site are showing no signs of slowing down.

Truck after truck arrived at the site on Monday filled with dirt. The trucks then dumped the dirt and a bulldozer put dirt from the site into the truck before they drove away.

Barbara Hanuscin is not happy with happening behind her yard. It’s a dig site about 30-feet deep filled with water, mud and bugs.

Southside construction site under investigation after runoff seen. (Courtesy Michael Best)
Southside construction site under investigation after runoff seen. (Courtesy Michael Best)

“To wake up, your bed is shaking, your windows are rattling, your dishes are rattling, the pictures are going crooked, the dust is blowing everywhere. It has been a nightmare,” Hanuscin said.

It smells and she’s worried her home could sink. And that’s not all.

Drone video recorded by Michael Best shows hundreds of feet of silt that is being pumped into Pottsburg Creek and he’s worried it’s contaminating the water.

Southside construction site under investigation after runoff seen. (Courtesy Michael Best)

Other residents took News4Jax by boat to get a closer look with St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman.

“For them to be knowingly and willingly dumping excess dirt that doesn’t belong to this ecosystem, that causes a multitude of problems,” said Rinaman.

She says the violations are clear and upsetting.

“We need to see what the violations are and if there are any loopholes that allow this to happen, those need to be closed immediately. Because this all adds up,” Rinaman said.

Residents over the weekend said they saw the sediment coming straight into Pottsburg Creek, which feeds into the St. Johns River, which then feeds into the Atlantic Ocean.

News4Jax did some digging and found the former owner of the property sold it in April to Baymit II LLC, a Tampa-based company, for $115,000 and for the past two months it’s been used to swap dirt out with a nearby construction site which residents say is going to be a big brand gas station.

The City of Jacksonville has received three complaints and has visited the property and found contractors Shaw’s Clearing, Dirt on Demand and Brightway Realty had violations. Inspectors gave them the notice to fix the issues and News4Jax has reached out for their response.

Daniel Bergin, the owner of Dirt on Demand, confirmed his company is one of those involved in the project, but added, “It wasn’t us.” He sent a statement that reads:

“Dirt On Demand was informed by the City of Jacksonville and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection that there are reports of offsite discharge of turbid water into Pottsberg Creek over the weekend. There is a YouTube video that was taken from a drone by a neighbor Friday evening showing the pump running. Our site was shut down Friday afternoon which is evident by the equipment being parked and blocking the driveway as well as no personnel onsite. The pump had not been used for multiple days prior to the July 16th and was not turned on by anyone associated with or contracted by Dirt On Demand. The site is inspected daily by multiple agencies and was in fact inspected the day of the 16th by the City of Jacksonville. At no time during the inspections has there been silt, sand, or water leaving the site and contaminating the creek. It is unfortunate that this happened.”

A city team was onsite Monday working with Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection. It said an investigation is ongoing.

Neighbors said not only are they demanding that the construction project stops right away, but they also want the companies involved to clean up what they’ve done.

About the Author:

Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.