JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville City Council President Tommy Hazouri has filed legislation calling for $100 million to remove septic tanks in underserved neighborhoods.
The plan is in addition to the effort to phase out septic tanks in the Biltmore, Beverly Hills and Christobel neighborhoods.
The city made an agreement with JEA in 2016 to invest more than $30 million to phase out septic tanks in those three neighborhoods, but News4Jax I-TEAM learned the program hit a snag when the city ran out of money. The city and JEA said they will need $6 million to complete the septic tank phaseout program in the Beverly Hills East neighborhood, directly affecting 150 homes. City leaders also said they’re $25.8 million short on septic tank funding for the Christobel neighborhood, directly impacting 509 homes.
A news release Tuesday evening said Hazouri’s plan would help pay for the removal of the septic tanks in “the remaining of the more neglected neighborhoods throughout the county.”
“It is time that we stand and deliver and fill the unfulfilled promises of yesterday. These neighborhoods are vital for the well-being of Jacksonville. For too long, we have not provided the assistance that is so desperately needed. The time to act is now, our responsibility is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of each citizen. We can no longer delay--or avoid--making the investments in our neighborhoods that have been left behind or left out,” Hazouri said in a prepared statement. “My plan is to eradicate these septic tanks and contribute to the quality of life that all residents of Jacksonville deserve.”
Jacksonville is trying to make good on a broken promise made in 1968 during consolidation. The city agreed to improve drainage and sewer systems in older neighborhoods as it expanded the city boundaries to go all the way out to the beaches. But to this day, tens of thousands of Jacksonville residents still depend on septic tanks, which have harmful effects on the local tributaries.
Hazouri’s proposal seeks $100 million to make a sustainable long-term commitment to remove the septic tanks and hook up to city services. Residents have told News4Jax that the real problems arise following heavy rains, when their septic tanks back up from the floodwater and the runoff of human waste goes into the river.
At Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, Hazouri introduced legislation 2021-100 amending the five-year capital improvement funding program to fund the project titled “The Water/Wastewater System Fund.”
“We know that $100,000,000 is just the beginning of the necessary funding to fulfill our promise. We care deeply about our city; I hope JEA in conjunction with the City will soon make a commitment to further the efforts of eradicating septic tanks,” Hazouri said.
In addition, Mayor Lenny Curry and members of the City Council will host a news conference at 9:30 a.m. Thursday to announce funding to phase out septic tanks.