JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Larsen Community is old and established, but about 125 homes are not connected to the central water supply system.
"It is bad and rusty," said Barbara Hobbs.
Hobbs, 78, gets water to her Don Street home from an old and failing well in the backyard.
"Everything is brown, " she said. "It is just nasty."
So she buys cases of bottled water for drinking.
Gary McCormick lives two blocks away from Hobbs on Clairmont Road and has a different kind of problem -- he has no water at all.
"I've been living for almost two weeks without water," said McCormick.
McCormick's home and two others were connected to another house that is tied in to a JEA water line. Two weeks ago that house was sold and McCormick and his neighbors were disconnected.
"We have to haul water in jugs from the park or the church around the corner," he said.
Dennis Bey is one of those neighbors without water. He rents but still can't believe that he is living in third world conditions.
The JEA has heard the complaints, but the solution is not as easy as it seems.
"We know the numbers are in the tens of thousands of dollars," said Brian Roche.
Roche is Vice President of JEA's water/wastewater system. He went to Clairmont Road to assess the situation.
"We're gonna look at the field to get a real precise estimate," he said.
A precise estimate of the cost, and how to pay for it. An early estimates puts the cost of connecting the three homes at around $37,000.
The question is who pays for it?
The Larsen community is in Councilwoman Lori Boyer's district.
"I think we can get it fixed I don't see any reason why we shouldn't be able to," said Boyer.
Boyer called together the JEA, Public Works, Public Health and others to work on a solution to the problem.
"We have a game plan," she said.
Once they overcome some of the challenges, among them including:
- Many of the residents are on fixed income and can't afford the cost of a hook up
- Some of the properties are rental
- A handful of property owners do not want to be connected to the JEA
"You have to keep plugging at it," said Pat Bridgeman.
Bridgeman is President of the Larsen Neighborhood Association and has been fighting for decent running water in the community.
"I do feel there's light at the end of the tunnel now," she said.
In two weeks they'll know how much light when they find out how much they can accomplish and at what cost.
JEA staffers said once it has been determined how to pay for getting running water to homes in the Larsen, the project could be up and running in a week or two.
Until then, Clairmont Road residents like Gary McCormick will have to get their water from the nearby public park.
First Coast News