JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – City leaders on Monday afternoon were given an update about the massive project undertaken by JEA to phase out septic tanks around Jacksonville.
Many of those tanks are decades old, and some are failing.
City Councilman Ron Salem called in a JEA representative to the City Council’s Transportation, Energy and Utilities Committee meeting Monday.
Salem said the overall project to replace 65,000 septic tanks around the city could cost approximately $2 billion.
“It is my personal feeling that this is not an issue that’s going to be solved in 5 years or 10 years. This is a 30- or 50-year issue,” Salem said. “But you have to start somewhere.”
But in the more immediate future, the focus is on three Northwest Jacksonville neighborhoods that are at the top of the list to have their septic tanks phased out. Those neighborhoods are Biltmore, Beverly Hills and Christobel.
During Monday’s meeting, the representative with JEA laid out the time frame on those projects, which are estimated to cost $45 million. Biltmore’s project should be finished first by next August. Construction in Beverly Hills will start in phases beginning in the spring of 2021. Then the Christobel neighborhood will be next, but a construction date has not been set yet.
Yvonne Ward is a resident in the Christobel neighborhood who wants to see some progress on her street. Ward said she has lived in the home for approximately 50 years and has been promised her property would be phased off of septic for decades.
“It is frustrating because we’re living up on the water,” Ward said. “Sometime when it rains, the water drains. People can’t even get out of their houses because of the drainage and stuff.”
She believes if she lived in a different neighborhood from Northwest Jacksonville, action may have taken place sooner.
“It’s because of the part of town we live in because we’ve been living with this a long time and they haven’t really did anything for us,” Ward said.
The JEA representative who spoke during Monday’s meeting said it will cost tens of thousands of dollars on average per home to phase them out of septic tanks.
Ward raised concerns that on some of those properties, the transition out of a septic system could cost more than the property itself.