Jacksonville, Florida – Hogans Creek winds all the way through the city of Jacksonville, FL. While the waterway was there before the city was even created, the creek’s toxic past has prevented Jacksonville residents from enjoying it and the land around it. Hogans Creek’s sordid past exposes a detailed history of waste removal issues in the Jacksonville area.
Let’s travel back to the Great Fire of 1901, which was one of the worst disasters ever in Florida. The fire torched 146 city blocks and left over 10,000 Jacksonville area residents homeless. This is suspected to be the first real contamination of Hogans Creek, but despite the devastation some good came out of the fire. It allowed Architect Henry John Klutho an opportunity to help make things better.
Many of Klutho’s improvements are still existence today. Unfortunately, these transformations made in the early 1900’s are the only positive changes in the history of Hogans Creek. With the industrial revolution on the horizon, this was the peak of Hogans Creek.
As with any waterway throughout industrial revolution, they were plagued by the runoff from factories. It was not until 1970, when the first testing of Hogans Creek was conducted. From the very first test, fish and aquatic life in the creek were declared unsafe to consume, which has remained to this day. The waterway was so polluted that many of the testing devices of this time period were unable to pinpoint an accurate level of contaminants because of their high concentration.
Even with the regulations that were eventually passed, the decline of Hogans Creek continued over the following decades. Not only has a major financial resource been spoiled, many of Klutho’s initial improvements have been subject to the brunt of poor sanitation and waste removal efforts. The City of Jacksonville is finally ready to reclaim Hogans Creek.
Groundworks Jacksonville and many other organizations have teamed up with Jacksonville’s Department of Public Works with the goal to return the waterway to a state where fishing and swimming will be commonplace, though a century of neglect will not make this an easy task.
The first major step will be diverting or channeling the creek for the time being. This will put a halt to any future contaminants making its way into Hogans Creek. The EPA has cited the primary pollutants as failing septic tanks and animal waste.
The nonprofit organizations involved, as well as the City of Jacksonville has been able to allocate about $20 million dollars for the revitalization project. A majority of this money will be headed towards the actual clean up of Hogans Creek. Yet, some of the funds will be reserved to educating and ensuring that proper waste removal efforts are carried out in the future.
Once Hogans Creek is restored to near its natural state, Jacksonville will be able to begin using it to create revenue. Many similar waterways travel through cities such as San Antonio and are able to generate over 8 million dollars every year. This seems to be a mutually beneficial opportunity for both the environment and the City of Jacksonville.