LITHIA - A new treatment and filtering system at the south-central county water plant has been added to improve taste and quell that occasional rotten-egg smell that comes from some Florida groundwater.
The hydrogen sulfide removal facility next to Hillsborough County's Lithia Water Treatment Plant may turn the water slightly cloudy, due to oxygen bubbles, but that is what is actually improving the water, said Michelle Van Dyke, communications director for Hillsborough County Public Utilities.
The bubbles are created by the new ozone process that removes hydrogen sulfide and the characteristic "rotten egg" smell from groundwater pumped from that particular area, said Luke Mulford, water quality engineer for the public utility. "The ozone reacts with water and goes back to oxygen," Mulford said. "We don't see the bubbles at the plant, but that may be because the water is a little bit cooler at the plant. It's just water that is super-saturated with oxygen."
The newly treated water began going out to customers at the beginning of this month in Apollo Beach, Brandon, Riverview, Ruskin and Sun City Center. Van Dyke said similar ozone treatment systems are used all over the world to treat water for taste and odor.
As part of its contract to provide potable water to Hillsborough County, Tampa Bay Water has to meet certain parameters, including limits on hydrogen sulfide, said Tampa Bay Water spokesman Brandon Moore. If it fails to meet those limitations, the county gets a credit on its bill.
Moore said the wholesale water distributor, which serves all of Hillsborough County, purchased 18.6 acres of land adjacent to the water treatment plant at Lithia-Pinecrest Road and FishHawk Boulevard to build the new treatment and filtration system.
The county utility made several modifications at the plant to integrate the new treatment system, at a cost of $1.4 million, Mulford said.