By KEVIN BRADY
Toss out that expensive bottled water, a new water treatment plant is making the water coming out your tap better than ever.
A $34.7 million dollar hydrogen sulfide removal facility beside Newsome High School on Fishawk Blvd. in Lithia went online this month improving the water quality for 535,000 homes in Hillsborough County.
Water customers in south-central Hillsborough communities such as Apollo Beach, Brandon, Riverview, Ruskin and Sun City Center began receiving water treated with ozone in early July. Ozone is a safe, affordable and efficient method used to disinfect water and improve taste and odor in treatment plants.
In addition to noticing improved odor and taste, residents may also notice that the tap water occasionally appears cloudy white due to tiny oxygen bubbles. This may be more apparent until the new process is further refined.
The water is safe to drink.
The bubbles are created by the new ozone process that is removing hydrogen sulfide and its characteristic rotten egg smell from groundwater supplied to the Lithia plant. The oxygen bubbles should dissipate after the water sits for a few minutes.
“The rotten egg smell is all removed now,” said Brandon Moore, Tampa Bay Water’s public communications manager.
Students at Newsome High School will be particularly pleased with the changes.
Football players at the school complained about the smell coming from Tampa Bay Water’s plant during a public hearing at the school in 2010.
“They were really happy to hear there would no longer be a smell coming from the plant,” Moore said. Residents also welcomed the changes. “We had a lot of positive feedback about the new plant.”
“It’s a higher quality of water residents are now receiving.”
Tampa Bay Water meets more than 100 federal, state and local standards for quality. “We actually go above and beyond the standard. I don’t know the standards for bottled water but I know our standards are above what is required. And you pay about ¼ of a penny per gallon for our water.”
Hillsborough County Public Utilities made several modifications at the plant in order to integrate the new ozone treatment process into daily operations.
These included reconfiguring chemical feed systems and related piping, upgrading chemical analyzers and controls, and constructing a new segment for the pipeline which brings water into the plant from Tampa Bay Water’s regional system.
Hillsborough County is a member of Tampa Bay Water. Hillsborough County Public Utilities Department provides an average of 50 million gallons of drinking water a day to 535,000 people in unincorporated Hillsborough County, and treats about 36 million gallons of wastewater a day.
Construction of the new plant took two years and was funded through construction bonds and Tampa Bay Water’s wholesale water rate.
With the start-up and testing of the new facility and plant improvements, Hillsborough County’s 20-year-old hydrogen sulfide removal process is being retired.
Tampa Bay Water is Florida’s largest wholesale water provider. The agency provides wholesale drinking water to its member governments of Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties and the cities of New Port Richey, St. Petersburg and Tampa.
For more information about the project, go to www.tampabaywater.org.