First set of Biltmore neighbors connected to city sewer and water during septic tank phase-out – Action News Jax

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Biltmore’s first neighbors are now connected to the city’s sewers and water after construction crews complete the first of three phases.

The septic tank exit is a decade-old promise from the city, and neighbors said they were glad to see leaders honor their end of the deal.

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“We prefer city water to well water. So we were very excited when we found out that we could get the city water, ”said Christian Leao. In September she moved to Biltmore.

There are a total of 349 lots in the neighborhood. JEA has 289 agreements to remove the septic tanks and connect houses to the city sewer and water supply. The project is expected to be completed by summer 2022.

Two other projects are also in the works. These include Beverly Hills West, which is expected to be completed by November 20, 2023; and Cristobel, which still needs 70% approval from the owner.

Beverly West currently has 616 agreements in place and Cristobel only 153.

So far, the three projects together will connect 1,058 houses to municipal sewage and water supplies, costing more than $ 87 million. The costs are shared by both the city and the JEA.

Jimmy Orth, executive director of St. John’s Riverkeeper, said this was only part of what needs to be done. He said more than 20,000 septic tanks are likely to fail.

“This is a multi-billion dollar problem, so we’re just scratching the surface in many ways,” said Orth. “We have to be vigilant in the city and be ready to invest – because this problem will not go away.”

Orth said nutrients leak from aging tanks and pollute the St. Johns River, causing toxic algal bloom.

“It is a threat to human health. Swimming and relaxing and swallowing some of that water can cause gastrointestinal problems. So it can make you sick, ”he explained. It’s also a problem for wildlife that depends on the St. Johns River.

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But time is running out. As the sea level rises, so does the groundwater level. Orth said the distance between the drainage fields for water and septic tanks would then decrease.

“If the discharge field of these septic tanks is not far enough away from the groundwater, it will not treat the wastewater.”

Part of the city’s funding comes from the Local Option gas tax, which is set to double next year. However, Councilor Leanna Cumber tabled an emergency bill to repeal it.

In a statement to Action News Jax, a city official said, “The Local Option Gas Tax is the only source of funding that will ensure we have the nearly $ 1 billion we need for road, drainage and other critical infrastructure projects. “

We asked what would happen if the gas tax were abolished, but so far we have received no response.

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