By Tamas Mondovics
Thanks to a new water treatment method, residents in south-central Hillsborough are receiving higher quality water, but due to the new process, the tap water sometimes will have a white cloudy appearance.
County Public Utilities officials say the water is safe to drink as the improvement process continues to be refined.
“In addition to noticing improved odor and taste, residents may also notice that the tap water occasionally appears cloudy white,” County spokesperson, Michelle Van Dyke.
“This is due to tiny oxygen bubbles,” she said, but added that the water is safe to drink and that the occasional cloudiness of the water may be more apparent as the new water improvement process is further refined.
Officials said that 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,” Van Dyke said.
The strange phenomenon is the result of installation of the new hydrogen sulfide removal facility at the Lithia Water Treatment Plant located off Lithia Pinecrest Rd. just north of FishHawk Blvd.
Tampa Bay Water constructed the new facility, which combined with the property acquisition, was accomplished at the cost of approximately $34.7 million, funded through construction bonds and Tampa Bay Water’s wholesale water rate.
The change in the process means that with the start-up and testing of the new ozone facility and plant improvements that the Hillsborough County’s 20-year-old hydrogen sulfide removal process is now being retired, and with it, the occasional sulfur smell that emanated from the old facility.
Hillsborough County Public Utilities, which 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 waste water a day, made several modifications at the Lithia plant in order to integrate the new ozone treatment process into daily operations.
Van Dyke said that the modifications included the reconfiguring of chemical feed systems and related piping, upgrading chemical analyzers and controls, as well as constructing a new segment for the pipeline which brings water into the plant from Tampa Bay Water’s regional system.
Water customers in communities such as Apollo Beach, Brandon, Riverview, Ruskin and Sun City Center, all began receiving water treated with ozone in early July, a method that county officials say is a safe, affordable and efficient process used to disinfect water and improve taste and odor in treatment plants all over the world.
Tampa Bay Water is Florida’s largest wholesale water provider, which 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.