Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Residents Complain to JEA; Cost of Sewer Hookups Raising Their Concerns

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Residents Complain to JEA; Cost of Sewer Hookups Raising Their Concerns

Article excerpt

Byline: Christina Abel

PONTE VEDRA BEACH -- Even though JEA officials were present at this week's Municipal Service District meeting to answer questions about connecting to a long-awaited vacuum sewer system, some residents weren't satisfied with the answers they got.

Residents expressed frustration about the cost of paying a plumber to remove ground water to open the way to hook into the system, which about 675 residents are required to do within one year.

Residents are finding water 2 to 3 feet below the surface, although most of the system's connection points are 5 feet underground.

"I'm understanding now that each vacuum system now has to have an additional dewatering process," resident Chris Estebanez said. "Now it's gonna cost each individual homeowner an additional $500 to $800, depending on who your plumber is and how much dewatering has to be done."

Resident Virginia Simpson said she got a $4,775 estimate from one plumber for her connection, which included a "dewatering" cost.

She and other residents who attended Monday night's MSD meeting at the Ponte Vedra Beach branch library asked JEA officials why they didn't install a 45-degree-angled pipe so plumbers could hook into connection pods closer to the surface. Instead of being angled upward, the connection pipes stick out laterally, requiring the plumbers to dig all the way down to the pod and, in the process, pump out water.

"If the angled pipe had been installed right away, then not every single hookup would have to go down to the 5-foot level; that would eliminate the dewatering cost," Simpson said.

But Doug McCutchen, JEA's project director for the Ponte Vedra Beach sewer system, said angled pipes were not part of the project's design.

"The design manual does not show, nor does the manufacturer recommend that it extend up at a 45-degree angle," he said. …

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