Jacksonville Could Get $6M From State Budget For Septic Tank Phase Outs

Apr 29, 2021

Jacksonville could get $6 million from the state to help pay for septic tank phase outs if the Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis sign off on this year’s state budget, as it’s proposed.

That money, tied to Republican Cord Byrd’s (R-Jacksonville) HB 2793, is one of many items in the proposed record $101.5 billion budget that lawmakers are scheduled to vote on Friday.

Those state funds are specifically earmarked for phase outs in the Beverly Hills neighborhood, northwest of Downtown Jacksonville.

That’s on top of $14.4 million in new city funding approved by the City Council in March and another $12.5 million from JEA, according to WJCT News partner The Florida Times-Union.

City Council President Tommy Hazouri has also introduced legislation that would see the city invest another $100 million into septic tank phase outs, if a proposed local option gas tax is approved.

Florida has an estimated 2.6 million septic systems and Duval County has about 65,000. JEA has estimated that it would cost more than $2.1 billion to offer all of those Jacksonville homeowners sewer service.

Aging septic tanks leak nutrients into groundwater and are considered a significant driver of toxic algae blooms. The harmful effects of septic tanks are being exacerbated by climate change and sea level rise.

The proposed state budget also includes $600,000 for well and septic tank phase outs in Nassau County’s American Beach and $300,000 for a septic-to-sewer program in St. Augustine. The budget also includes more than $100 million in grants to help local governments and non state entities make wastewater and stormwater improvements, including septic conversion and remediation.

Once approved by the state Legislature, Gov. Ron DeSantis would need to sign off on the budget.

Brendan Rivers can be reached at brivers@wjct.org, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.