We’ve all heard the old saying “It must be something in the water” used to describe the particular and peculiar characteristics of a region. This saying is, of course, usually not meant to be taken literally. In the case of Jacksonville, however, there may actually be something to it.
That’s right, Jacksonville, we’ve yet again managed to make one of those lists — the ones that reveal the worst cities for something or other, usually rounded off into a tidy top-10 and then tossed around the Internet as something for you to read at work while avoiding your responsibilities. A lot of times these lists are completely arbitrary, based on flimsy citizen satisfaction polls, and are ultimately pointless Google Adsense bait, but this one concerns a scientific analysis of the make-up of our drinking water. You know, H2O, the essential building block of life and the molecule that makes up about 65 percent of our bodies? Yeah, it’s kind of a big deal.
From the Daily Finance:
"...some organizations and state environmental agencies that collect and analyze water data say the level of chemicals in some Americans' drinking water not only exceeds recommended health guideline but the pollutants even exceed the limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the national legal authority in these matters...."
10. Jacksonville, Fla. (JEA)
Located on the northeast coast of Florida, Jacksonville is the state's largest city. According to EWG (Environmental Working Group in D.C.), 23 different toxic chemicals were found in Jacksonville's water supply. The chemicals most frequently discovered in high volumes were trihalomethanes, which consist of four different cleaning byproducts -- one of which is chloroform. Many trihalomethanes are believed to be carcinogenic. Over the five-year testing period, unsafe levels of trihalomethanes were detected during each of the 32 months of testing, and levels deemed illegal by the EPA were detected in 12 of those months. During at least one testing period, trihalomethane levels were measured at nearly twice the EPA legal limit. Chemicals like arsenic and lead were also detected at levels exceeding health guidelines." (Emphasis mine.)
Of course, at least on the surface, this shouldn’t come as a complete shock. Anyone who has ever walked by a sprinkler in Duval and caught a whiff of the protruding pungent liquid — which smells like a fart that resulted from an expired gas station egg salad sandwich — can probably figure out that there’s something not quite right with our agua. True, most people I know drink bottled water — but even when you use ice cubes made from our tap water, it's like a race against time to finish before those cubes start to melt. In other words, it doesn't take a pH-testing kit to realize there may be something a little amiss here.
To be fair, the article notes that cities in Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia provided insufficient data to be included in the EWG's database. Some other major cities also failed to submit information, including Detroit, Salt Lake City and Washington, D.C. (why does that not surprise us?). And, hey, our neighboring Pensacola came in at No. 1 in poor drinking water quality. (Flo-ri-da! Flo-ri-da!)
Admittedly, I'm not a scientist (then again, neither is our state’s governor or junior senator, so I’m in OK company), but "23 toxic chemicals found in Jacksonville's water supply" does not sound at all kosher. I don't know what the hell trihalomethanes are, but why do I have a sneaking suspicion that it may have something to do with pesticide runoff from some rich asshole's anal-retentively manicured lawn? However, I am somewhat familiar with chloroform, that nefarious chemical made famous by the likes of serial killers, rapists and movie bad guys as an agent used to force victims into a state of unconsciousness. I mean, I can't imagine a substance that has an entire section labeled "Criminal Use" on Wikipedia being a good thing to have in our drinking water. On the bright side, chloroform has been shown to induce liver and kidney tumors in lab mice, so, yay, we may finally have our solution to the Hemming Plaza rat infestation problem.
But seriously, what the hell is going on here? How is this allowed to happen? Access to clean drinking water is the most important criterion that separates us from the third world, and we can't even get this right? Perhaps we should just be understanding of poor ol' JEA, you know, the way they are when you are a few days late with your bill. JEA could always flip this around on us and say that we, the citizens, are to blame because of all of the pharmaceuticals we put into the water in the form of anti-depressant byproduct. After all, we were ranked (hey, another list!) as the sixth unhappiest city by Bloomberg BusinessWeek (second in depression!), and that would make perfect sense —BECAUSE CHLOROFORM CAUSES DEPRESSION.
While our water may not be clear, one thing is: We'd better get our shit together — or at least get our shit out of our water — because if we don't, the next Clean Water Music Fest held by charitable Jacksonville-based Flagship Romance could be held for their hometown.
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