TEDxFSCJ Adventure: Safe to Drink?


Wednesday, April 26, 2017 – Kent Campus, D120, from 6 - 8 p.m.

How much do you know about the water you drink? The water crisis in Flint, Michigan has prompted widespread concern about the quality of local water sources, including right here in Northeast Florida. But distinguishing fact from fiction, and determining the true levels of risk to public health, is often difficult for the ordinary consumer.

Join TEDxFSCJ for an adventure exploring the current safety and future health of Jacksonville’s drinking water. The evening will feature several local experts, including JEA Laboratory Compliance Director Kevin Holbrooks, environmental chemist Lisa Saupp, and UNF environmental history professor Charles Closmann. Moderated by award-winning Jacksonville writer Lisa Grubba, our speakers will address what chemical levels are safe for drinking water, whether Jacksonville’s infrastructure is at risk for Flint-like contamination, and what causes First Coast sprinkler water to emit that off-putting odor.



Dr. Charles Closmann is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of History at the University of North Florida. Closmann specializes in the histories of Germany, Europe and the environment. In 2010, he was awarded a grant from UNF’s Environmental Center to develop an oral history-based course on the St. Johns River.  Closmann’s students interviewed over twenty environmentalists, journalists, fishermen and artists, and the resulting oral histories are being archived in the UNF Library as part of a special collection on the St. Johns River. Closmann is the editor of War and the Environment: Military Destruction in the Modern Age (Texas A&M Press, 2009) and is currently writing a book on the environmental history of water in Hamburg, Germany.


Lisa Grubba is an award-winning freelance writer in Jacksonville.  She founded and edits the digital magazine, Florida Field Notes – Northeast Florida’s Outdoor Journal.  Grubba earned a bacchelor’s degree in Finance from the University of Central Florida and was a business analyst and portfolio manager.  She began magazine freelancing 22 years ago, first writing business articles and later branching out into feature, book review, essay, memoir and news reporting.  In 2006, she was faculty-nominated at UCF to the Associated Writers and Writing Programs Best Non-Fiction awards.  After obtaining a Florida Master Naturalist certification from the University of Florida, Grubba has focused on environmental and nature writing.  Currently, she is pursuing a master’s degree in journalism from Harvard University Extension School.


Kevin Holbrooks is Director of Laboratory Compliance at Jacksonville Electric Authority. With 25 years’ experience at JEA, Holbrooks leads a staff of 36 employees whose responsibilities include analyzing drinking water, wastewater and electric generating stack emissions. The laboratory performs approximately 210,000 analyses a year to ensure permit and regulatory compliance at 36 water plants, 11 wastewater facilities and 5 power plants.  Holbrooks graduated from the University of Florida with a BS in Chemistry and is certified by OSHA as an Incident Commander and by the United States Coast Guard as qualified to respond to environmental incidents. He serves on numerous utility committees and boards, including the Florida Electric Coordinating Group and the Air and Waste Management Association.


Lisa Saupp is an environmental chemist who has worked in the water and wastewater industry for more than 30 years.  Saupp is the Laboratory Director for Aqua Pure Water & Sewage Service, Inc., which tests water and wastewater systems for municipalities in Marion, Lake, Citrus, Gilchrist, Putnam and Volusia counties, providing compliance monitoring and reporting for their EPA and DEP requirements. She holds an MBA in Environmental Business Administration from Florida Atlantic University, a BS in Chemistry with a minor in Environmental Science from the University of Florida, and a BA in Business Administration from St. Leo University.  Saupp has volunteered with various organizations, including the Florida Springs Institute, to promote community awareness about the Floridan Aquifer and springs.