Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Water Supply Put to Test before It Gets to Homes; JEA Tests 45,000 Samples a Year before It's Distributed to Homes

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Water Supply Put to Test before It Gets to Homes; JEA Tests 45,000 Samples a Year before It's Distributed to Homes

Article excerpt

Byline: Saphara Harrell

Jacksonville's 1915 Waterworks Park still works. Exposed brick and tall blue windows adorn the building off Main Street in Springfield. Inside, an antique green water pump dominates the high-ceilinged electrical room, but it has been replaced by technology that's more powerful and a tenth the size.

These days the building does more than pump water. It serves primarily as a laboratory that tests samples of Jacksonville's drinking water - along with wastewater and industrial waste - ensuring it is free of contaminants.

Water quality has been in the news recently with accounts of lead poisoning in Flint, Mich., attracting national attention. The problems there began after the city switched its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River.

Jacksonville is nothing like Flint, said Kevin Holbrooks, the director of environmental compliance at the JEA, which is responsible for the city's water service.

"Our water source is different. Our distribution system is different. Our treatment process is different," said Holbrooks, who said there haven't been any real issues with lead in Jacksonville.

JEA's most recent water-quality report shows that the city's water is safe to drink.

"We have no indication right now to see that there's anything wrong in Jacksonville. We've done all of our testing; everything looks good," Holbrooks said.

JEA tests for lead in homes by sending sampling kits to a random selection of customers to see if pipes might be leaching the chemical.

Water utilities like JEA are required by the federal Environmental Protection Agency to publish reports on the quality of water they provide to residents. In addition, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection receives monthly bacteriological reports from JEA.

DEP Compliance Coordinator Joni Petry said the agency uses those reports to make sure everything checks out. …

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