Water Safety

Public water suppliers are sometimes the target of companies or groups trying to capitalize on the perception that water quality is poor or even harmful to drink. JEA prides itself in delivering high quality, safe drinking water that meets stringent regulatory requirements.

JEA’s water quality meets the standards demanded by federal and state regulatory agencies – it is safe to drink. Every year, we collect and test over 45,000 samples throughout our service territory for over 100 bacteriological and chemical components to ensure compliance. Our Annual Water Quality Report shows the results of our testing. As stated in the report, most of the minerals and elements present in our drinking water occur naturally in the aquifer at very low levels.

Additionally, federal and state regulations require drinking water utilities to maintain an adequate chlorine residual to ensure the water is free of pathogens. Chlorine can impart a taste to water for some people. If someone calls you and offers to test your water for free, please keep in mind that they may attempt to sell you a water filtration system to change the taste. If any suggestion is made that your water is unsafe to consume, please contact JEA at 665-6000 with the vendor’s name and phone number so we can address the issue directly with them. 

Environmental Working Group 2009 Water Quality Report

This Environmental Working Group report was distributed initially in 2009 by an "unregulated" environmental group. The report has not been updated since 2009, and has resurfaced several times throughout the years.  Because of concerns about the methodology used as well as JEA’s confidence in the quality of its water, then CEO Jim Dickenson addressed the following letter to JEA water customers. The letter was published in the Florida Times Union.

See the article featured in Florida Field Notes that further explains this report. (Published February 12, 2016)

Letter to the Community (Published in the Florida Times Union December 2009)

Earlier in December (2009), an unregulated environmental organization called the Environmental Working Group released a report that “evaluated and ranked” 47,667 utilities nationally in terms of water quality.  This organization compiled data supplied by the majority of states and the District of Columbia.  The report ranked Jacksonville water poorly. What the report does not clarify is the methodology used to determine the rankings.

The average utility in the study had 420 samples reviewed, with 8 detections—exceedances and pollutants—(1.9%), while JEA had 6,946 samples reviewed with 23 detections (0.3%).   JEA conducts a comprehensive monitoring program by collecting and analyzing water samples from various locations throughout our treatment area.  In a typical year, JEA collects and tests more than 25,000 water samples.  These samples are tested for more than 100 bacteriological and chemical components.  This program is regulated by the state.  The methodology used by the Environmental Working Group is not regulated by anyone and does not follow any protocol or standard.

For the Environmental Working Group’s ranking, rather than comparing cities based on the percentage of positive chemical detections in the total number of samples taken, the report’s ranking was largely based on the total number of samples that tested positive at all for a chemical – i.e. even a slight detection of a chemical was counted.   For example, a utility could have had 10 samples reviewed, with 5 detections (50%), but would not have been considered to have poor water quality because of the low total number of positive detections of chemicals.

JEA’s water source is the Floridan aquifer, located 800 to 1,000 feet below land surface, and highly protected from chemical contamination by a thick layer of clay that prevents chemicals from entering the aquifer. The water is clean and fresh, and requires minimal treatment.  The water from the aquifer is simply pumped from the wells, aerated to remove sulfur compounds, chlorinated for disinfection, and distributed to our customers.   Most of the elements present in our drinking water occur naturally in the aquifer at very low levels.  Lead and copper found in drinking water occur from contact with household plumbing fixtures.

Federal and state regulations require drinking water utilities to maintain an adequate chlorine residual in treated water to ensure the water is free of pathogens.  And to assure that the public is fully informed of the quality of their drinking water, the federal government requires that all utilities report annually to their customers about the content and quality of their water.  Every JEA water customer receives this report in June each year.  It is also available online at jea.com. This report documents that, while some contaminants have been detected in very small amounts, none have exceeded federal water quality standards. Manmade synthetic chemicals are not present in our drinking water supply.

JEA also maintains a Water Quality Hotline where customers can inquire about water quality or report a water quality problem.

Water issues have become more prominent in the U.S. over the last few years.  The predominant concern is with availability of the resource.  Today, the origin of our water is one of the finest in the country and meets all federal and state regulations well below the maximum limit for any naturally occurring element.

Jim Dickenson
CEO and Managing Director (2004 - 2012)
JEA 

Water Quality in Your Home

Customers often ask about the quality of the water in their home. Your pipes could have a lot to do with it. 

  • Water that has a brown tint coming from the tap usually indicates rust in the house plumbing. 
  • White (Alka-Seltzer-like) appearance is generally caused by air in the water. 
  • Debris in your water usually comes after an interruption of water flow, i.e. repair or replacement of water lines. Run your water until it clears up before using it.
  • If you color your hair and notice an odd tint to it, chances are it’s coming from copper that’s leached out of your internal piping system and into the water. 
  • Low water pressure may be caused by build-up in the customer’s pipes that restricts the flow and thus the pressure, or it could be high customer demands straining the distribution system. 

If you have questions about your water quality, please call (904) 665-6000.

Home Water Treatment Systems 

Since the water we deliver to you meets federal and state drinking water standards, the decision to install a point-of-use or point-of-entry home water treatment device is a personal one. Some choose to install home treatment units. These systems can cost thousands of dollars, so before investing in a costly unit, make sure that the system you intend to purchase can address your needs. Additionally, it should be certified by NSF International, the Water Quality Association, or Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. to ensure that the manufacturers’ performance claims are tested and validated. Finally, be sure to follow the directions for cleaning and maintaining the system in order to prevent the growth of potentially harmful bacteria. 

JEA’s State-of-the-Art Water Monitoring System 

JEA also has a state-of-the-art operations network in place, called Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), which enables us to monitor our water supply system and bring you an uninterrupted supply of fresh, clean water to your home. SCADA is a technology that allows us to remotely control and monitor conditions at our water plants 24 hours a day. An operator monitors and controls the treatment facilities through a centralized computer system that shows a representation of the water plant system instrumentation and equipment indicating pressure, flow, reservoir levels, chlorine level, and pH, as well as critical alarms. 

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