Jacksonville Mayor Donna Degan is trying to make good on a promise made to River City residents back in the late 1960s during consolidation. Funds for the septic tank phaseout program are part of the city’s newly released final transition report.
The News4JAX I-TEAM has been following the septic tank project for years, keeping up with residents who have been waiting for the city to fulfill its pledge to get their homes connected to city water and sewer.
The main lines have already been installed underground in the Beverly Hills East area and residents say completing the project will enhance their quality of life. They expect to be connected sometime next year.
Beverly Hills resident Brian Caldwell described what local residents won’t have to deal with when the phaseout program is complete.
“You won’t have to worry about people who have broken tanks, when that water settles, it floats in your yard and others’ yards,” Caldwell said. “The tanks are old and made out of concrete so when it rains, sometimes you can smell the sewage when it’s coming out of them — so that can wash in your yard, and you walk through it. It’s pretty nasty.”
Part of Deegan’s final transition report has the administration committing to phasing out more than 4,000 eligible properties in the following communities:
The Biltmore neighborhood is complete.Beverly Hills West is substantially complete.Beverly Hills East’s main lines are being installed with home connection to start in spring 2024.In the Christobel Neighborhood, 10% of the design is complete, with an anticipated construction start date scheduled for summer 2025.Customer outreach to the Riverview community starts in 2024.
JEA officials said that as of fiscal year 2024, $49.5 million has been allocated by JEA, and the city of Jacksonville has contributed more than $118 million toward the work.
Residents told the I-TEAM they are eager to do away with their septic tanks, which will ultimately improve the health of Jacksonville citizens and the city’s rivers.
“Now it’s happening, so a lot of people are thankful for it,” Caldwell said. “Since they’ve been kids they’ve been waiting for this to happen.”
It’s important to note the project in the Riverview community, which includes more than 2,400 eligible homes needs at least 70% neighborhood approval before the work can begin. City officials said the additional funding for the project has been identified but not fully budgeted.