Chemical-free wastewater treatment - WFLA News Channel 8

Chemical-free wastewater treatment plant in Hillsborough County

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HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Hillsborough County is building a new wastewater treatment facility near Sun City Center.  Like many new wastewater plants, it will not use chemicals to treat the water. Instead, it will use ultraviolet light.

Dan Orlosky, a plant manager at the Falkenburg Wastewater Treatment Plant, explains how the UV light disinfects the wastewater.

"It radiates through the wastewater as it passes through, and it sterilizes the bacteria, so they're not harmful to you. It kills the cells in the bacteria," said Orlosky.

The UV lights are about two feet above channels of water. As the water flows under the banks of lights, the disinfection process takes places.

Previously, toxic chlorine gas was used to kill the bacteria before the water flowed into Tampa Bay or was used as reclaimed water. At that time, the plant housed one ton containers of that chlorine gas, but if those containers leaked, the entire facility needed to be evacuated.  

The UV process is safer for the workers at these facilities as well as cleaner for the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency says the ultraviolet disinfection leaves no residual effect that can be harmful to humans or sea life.

The Falkenburg plant treats more than 9 million gallons of water a day from 40,000 homes in the area.  That plant switched to the UV process in 2008 at a cost of $8 million.

The Valrico and Northwest plants also use the UV light to disinfect water. The new South County plant is expected to open in a year and a half.

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