New sewer technology could save city $250M in septic tank phase out

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Some of Jacksonville’s aging septic tanks — which have oftentimes been responsible for pollution runoff into Florida’s waterways — may soon be replaced by a sewer system using new technology that would save the city hundreds of millions of dollars.

According to a new report from JEA, septic tank phaseout in 32 identified neighborhoods would have cost about $1 billion, but that number would drop to $743 million using vacuum sewer technology.

“One of the key advantages of the vacuum sewer system is that it will be much less disruptive to residents during construction,” said JEA spokesperson Karen McAllister. “Excavation is shallow, where currently construction is in the middle of the road, and excavation can run from 3 to 20 feet deep.”

Using a vacuum station, vacuum mains and a valve pit, JEA would be able to pull sewage through the pipes, rather than using a conventional gravity sewer that requires deep trenches and various changes in elevation so that the wastewater can flow.

New sewer technology could be used in septic tank phase-out. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

″Some of the other advantages for residents is that they take less time for construction, require fewer facilities, and produce less odor,” McAllister said.

According to the new report from JEA:

  • A total of 22,998 unsewered parcels were evaluated
  • 97% of them (22,395) were recommended to be served by a vacuum collection system
  • The remaining were recommended for a gravity collection system or advanced onsite treatment system

Septic tank phaseout work has already started in the Biltmore and Beverly Hills neighborhoods. The Christobel neighborhood is the next community slated for septic tank phase-out.

The Florida Legislature recently awarded Jacksonville $6 million for septic tank phase-out work.

City Council members also voted in March to put $14.4 million in new city funding along with $12.5 million from JEA into the sewer construction projects.

About the Author:

Tarik anchors the 4, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekday newscasts and reports with the I-TEAM.