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First Coast Connect: Study Ranks Jacksonville’s Drinking Water Among Worst

A recent study by professors at the University of North Florida say Jacksonville’s water quality ranks poorly among residents.


Jacksonville is ranked among the worst in water quality, according to the Environmental Working Group, an organization that specializes in toxic chemicals and public lands research. The EWG examined the quality of water supplies in a large group of major American cities between 2005 and 2009.


A survey of the study was authored by Chiradip Chatterjee, assistant professor of economics; Russell Triplett, assistant professor of economics; and Parvez Ahmed, professor of accounting and finance. They were guests Monday on First Coast Connect, along with Kevin Holbrooks, JEA director of laboratory compliance, who discussed the quality of the city’s drinking water.


The survey explored how much local residents might be willing to pay for improvement in the quality of tap water.


Ahmed said they estimate Jacksonville residents are willing to pay $6.22 in addition to their regular water bill.


“They may not be willing to pay $6 a month — maybe they're willing to pay $2 or $3 a month,” he said. But, “if that addresses their perception of water quality, then that is a win ... for everybody.”


At the same time, Holbrooks indicated that the EWG is sponsored by water purification companies.


Triplett said 31 percent of residents surveyed said they are concerned or very concerned about getting sick from tap water; 32 percent said they somewhat agreed or strongly agreed that it has a foul smell or taste; and 34 percent said they somewhat or strongly believe that the water is in someway contaminated.


Holbrooks said while JEA does water inspections daily and the water is safe and of good quality, “taste and odor are very subjective.”


News Intern Joy Kader can be reached at or on Twitter at @joykader95.

Joy Kader is a senior at the University of North Florida, pursuing a degree in communication with a concentration in multimedia journalism and production.