JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - What uses the most drinking water in town?
"Typically it's the yard," JEA spokeswoman Gerri Boyce said. "They're irrigating."
And who uses the most?
Among residential consumers, the thirstiest home is on Moss Creek Drive along the Intracoastal Waterway. According to JEA records, homeowner Elizabeth Davis was billed for using 3.4 million gallons of potable water in fiscal year 2007.
For comparison, that's about 40 times the consumption of Jacksonville's average home, which uses about 84,000 gallons of water per year.
Number two on the JEA's list of largest residential water consumers is the San Marco home of Linda Stanley that used 2.2 million gallons.
The Springfield home of Alfreda Postal was number three on the list, followed by another home on Moss Creek River, just a few doors from Davis' home on the Intracoastal.
Channel 4's Dan Leveton reported that three of the 10 homes consuming the most potable water in Jacksonville are in that one neighborhood -- Queens Harbour -- just north of Atlantic Boulevard along the Intracoastal Waterway.
The rest of the top 10 are spread across Jacksonville -- in Arlington, Ortega, Julington Creek and Hidden Hills. Each of them consumed at least 1.5 million gallons.
With water shortages hitting South Florida and North Georgia and the possibility of Central Florida tapping the St. Johns River for drinking water, Leveton asked whether the JEA would ever set limits on the amount of water one residential customer could use.
"What we have to do is to convey this message of the importance of water conservation, to get people to change their behavior, and that's a tough thing to do because we've been very fortunate here with our supply of water," Boyce said.
In other words, the JEA says water conservation will remain voluntary. As long as people pay the bill, customers can use as much as they want.
But that bill can be hefty.
While the average consumer pays $433 per year for water, Jacksonville thirstiest consumer paid more than $17,000.
And while 3.4 million gallons and $17,000 might seem outrageous to some, many of the JEA's commercial and industrial consumers use hundreds of times more, with the largest consumer of all being the city of Jacksonville itself.
From libraries to parks to community buildings to City Hall, Jacksonville used 580 million gallons of water last year. That is used in a lot of faucets, toilets, drinking fountains and sprinklers for all those city-maintained lawns and rights-of-way.
Some of the other top commercial in institutional consumers of water are the Duval County schools, the Navy, hospitals, the University of North Florida, two bottling plants and even the JEA itself.
"You know, we're not the police, but we do care about how resources are used," Boyce said. "Our goal is to teach our customers how to use our resources more efficiently and more effectively."
Again, there is no limit to water use -- other that watering lawns between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. -- so these water customers are technically not doing anything wrong.
Leveton tried to get in touch with the city's top residential consumers, but none of them wanted to comment. The only name on the top 25 list most people would recognize was Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio.
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