Residents grateful for septic tank phaseout but say they’re not happy with how it’s being done

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – People in one Jacksonville neighborhood say they want things restored to how they were before a major city project to get their neighborhood off of septic tanks was launched.

Residents of the Beverly Hills neighborhood in Jacksonville said they are frustrated about the way the city’s septic tank phaseout program is being carried out.

Everyone who spoke to News4JAX on Monday said they were thankful that they’re being converted from septic tanks to city sewers, but one man said with the progress has also come inconvenience and some dissatisfaction and for others some extra expense.

″I like to sit on my porch, because that is where I relax and unwind, and when I look at that it is so troubling,” Michael Champion said.

Champion was talking about his Beverly Hills neighborhood, where JEA is connecting more than 700 houses currently on septic tanks to the city sewer system. It’s a huge and expensive undertaking that involves digging up yards and large portions of city roads and connecting each and every property to a network of underground sewers.

Champion said before the septic tank in the backyard was disconnected, he had St. Augustine grass, which he said contractors working for JEA replaced with Bahia grass. JEA said they replace sod with the most prevalent grass in the yard prior to the work, adding Bahia grass standard for all city right-of-way projects.

Champion wants to make sure the grass in his front yard is replaced with St. Augustine grass and he and others have a common complaint, the roads that are under construction.

“The fact they are really bumpy has caused me to get two front-end alignments, the construction has caused me to get three news tires,” said a driver who didn’t want to be identified.

The News4JAX I-TEAM spoke with JEA community outreach manager Greg Corcoran who said the Beverly Hills neighborhood is in Phase 3 and 4 for septic tank phaseout.

He said all the roads in the community will be regraded and rebuilt from the ground up starting in early summer.

He said the city uses Bahia grass instead of St. Augustine because it’s a low-maintenance grass that grows well with limited water compared to St. Augustine grass which may need irrigation to thrive.

Corcoran told News4JA JEA will indeed honor Champion’s request for St. Augustine grass. Corcoran also issued a statement on behalf of JEA about their commitment to the massive conversion.

“JEA is currently in the process of restoring the areas where we recently completed the installation of new water and sewer lines while eliminating failing septic systems. We will continue to work with our contractor to ensure that all resident issues are addressed and our customers are satisfied upon final completion of the project. JEA is committed to providing quality services while also leaving these neighborhoods better than they were before we started our work,” he said.

JEA estimates it will have all 483 homes in Beverly Hills west connected to the city sewer by November. The 266 homes in Beverly Hills east are scheduled for completion in November 2024.

If you’ve got a question or request JEA has set up a Project Outreach phone number for homeowners at 904-665-7500.

About the Author:

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