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City council starts discussion of $100 million septic tank removal program

City Council president Tommy Hazouri introduced the massive bill to put money into the city's capital improvement plan.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A bill getting its first reading on Tuesday would spend $100 million over the next two years to phasing out the tanks in Jacksonville’s most needed neighborhoods.

The septic tank removal is not a pretty process.

Crews are working in the Biltmore neighborhood near the intersections of Old Kings Road and Edgewood Avenue to finish phasing out dozens of tanks there.

City council president Tommy Hazouri says many of the failing tanks could cause problems for the public health and the environment..

“We have about 32 left on the original list of 35 [communities], there’s 65,000 septic tanks in Jacksonville, there’s 22,250 in the first 35 that are part of the septic tank removal program,” Hazouri said. “I think we’re heading in the right direction and its long past due, they’ve been talking about it since consolidation."

The bill would commit $50 million in the upcoming 2021-2022 fiscal year, and another $50 million in 2022-2023.

“You can’t nickel and dime every few years, we’ll do a septic tank here or there," Hazouri said. "You have too many to deal with, and the most important thing is it affects our health, safety and welfare.” 

Biltmore is one of three areas in Northwest Jacksonville with removals underway.

According to a list from the city, the Riverview neighborhood would be next on the list with more than 1,800 septic tanks.

“You can’t let our internal infrastructure collapse and that’s what happening,” Hazouri said.

Hazouri expects the bill to pass but tonight will get its first reading.

The city estimates it could cost about $2 billion to phase out septic tanks around the city, but the city says new construction of septic tanks may continue if a property is too far to hook up to city sewer.

The city will also get an additional $6 million from the state that will go towards sewer lines in the Beverly Hills neighborhood, for which the city and JEA committed additional dollars last month.

That project, phasing out septic tanks in three neighboroods including Beverly Hills East and West, Christobel and Biltmore C.

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