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City removes trash, tires clogging storm drains near San Marco

News4Jax alerts city to problem after neighbors report buildup of litter

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Storm drains in one South Riverside area near San Marco looked less like landfills after News4Jax alerted the city about an ongoing problem.

On Monday, a city crew could be seen picking up trash that was clogging storm drains along Drew and Sheridan streets.

The cleanup comes after neighbors told News4Jax they had no idea how much trash was filling the storm drains until two weeks ago. That's when a city landscaping crew finished cutting tall grass along the roadway. The grass was so tall that it hid excessive littering and illegally dumped tires inside the drains.

News4Jax asked Erica Brown, who lives in a home right across from one of the litter-filled drains, how bad it was on a scale of one to 10. 

"Eleven," she responded. 

Another neighbor, who asked to not be identified, said that she was upset over the unsightly amount of trash because she recently purchased a home near the drains. 

“It just doesn’t look good for the neighborhood, for property values and the city of Jacksonville,” she said. 

City Councilwoman Lori Boyer said this isn’t isolated to South Riverside. 

“Somebody will find a street that is not well-lit at night or something. They feel like it’s a safe place and then it seems to be a repeat location," Boyer said.

Along Sheridan, Drew and Ashland streets, News4Jax spotted countless numbers of bottles, cans, clothing and even garbage cans filled with trash inside the storm drains. While some of the items contained standing water, all of the drains maintained standing water because trash was clogging the drain.

IMAGES: Buildup of trash in South Riverside storm drains

Tommy Roberts lives right behind one of the trash-filled drains with standing water. He said it has become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. 

“It’s almost impossible to walk to your mailbox without being bit by mosquitoes," Roberts said. "Even with mosquito repellent, they’re still too bad."

Some neighbors said that mosquitoes near the drains have been so bad, they have walked their dogs in other areas to avoid being bitten. 

Mosquitoes are just one of the problems linked to the trashy drains. News4Jax also located several tires that appear to have been dumped in the drains. Discarding tires in storm drains is illegal. 

“We got to get these tires up out of here. That’s a no-no,” Roberts said.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, tires contain oils, mercury, metals and other chemicals that can eventually seep into the soil and groundwater, causing contamination.  Discarded tires also attract mosquitoes and other disease-carrying rodents. 

"Partially burned tires or the runoff from those tires from fire activity can cause contamination to the ground," said Florida Department of Environmental Protection manager Brian Durden. 

Florida has waste tire processing facilities where tires can be properly disposed of or recycled.

Boyer urged people to report illegal trash dumping, especially if they can capture the illegal act on cellphone video or home surveillance video. 

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Award-winning broadcast and multimedia journalist with 20 years experience.