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Jacksonville community living without water

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Updated: 10/28/2013 10:54 am
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's a necessity most people take for granted, but for families living in Jacksonville's Larson neighborhood, fresh water is scarce.

"Uh oh, we got a drip," said Tina Oliver.

That's about all they have.

For eight years, Gary McCormick and his seven-member household have been borrowing water from a neighbor since his well dried up during the drought in 2005, but even that water was filthy. That water was shut off when the neighbor moved out a week ago.

"Now we have no water at all. We have to lug 16 jugs of water every time we need water. It takes two jugs, or 2 gallons, every time we flush the toilet," said McCormick. That means three trips a day to their neighborhood church or the local park to fill up.

"I just find it so unacceptable in 2013 in the middle of Jacksonville," said Councilwoman Lori Boyer for District 5.

Boyer isn't letting this problem slip through the cracks any longer. One of the problems is that she said JEA doesn't have the money to put in new water lines, and it's not in the agency's policy to do so.

"From their perspective, it's not their responsibility, and the city doesn't have an arm or a part of the Public Works Department that has this in their capital improvement budget or their plan," she said.

Boyer said the city can apply for grants or state funding, but that takes time and comes as no immediate relief for these families.

"I challenge somebody else out there from JEA to live a week without water and tell me what I'm going through," said Boyer.

JEA does supply water to 200 people in the Larson neighborhood. The homes on the main roads had water lines built years ago.  Boyer told Action News she plans to meet with JEA and other local constituents next week to figure out how to tackle this issue, and quickly.

JEA provided the following statement on our story:

JEA, its board and city council are aware of the issues in certain areas where using wells for water service and septic tanks for sewer services may no longer be ideal or preferred. It is a challenging topic as the solution is costly.
Many homeowners in our service territory are on wells and septic systems. JEA welcomes the opportunity to connect new customers to our system. In doing so, as is standard in the industry, there is a cost to build the infrastructure to connect new customers. Typically homeowners or developers incur the cost to bring the system to areas currently on septic systems or wells, or where a system does not exist.
There are many variables when connecting to water and sewer services. Typically a customer (either an individual or a developer) applies for service, availability is ascertained and if there is availability, the appropriate fees are paid (capacity, tap and meter fees).

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