HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla (WFLA) – Hillsborough County is warning residents that they may notice a change in the smell and taste of their drinking water soon as the ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases forces the water supplier to change its treatment process.
Tampa Bay Water is temporarily changing its water treatment process due to a lack of liquid oxygen deliveries.
“The lack of liquid oxygen shortage is due to a driver shortage and an increased demand of liquid oxygen in hospitals,” said Brandon Moore with Tampa Bay Water.
Liquid oxygen is usually used to help remove hydrogen sulfide from water but the COVID-19 pandemic is causing shortages for water departments across the state.
“I do know it is a statewide issue of the liquid oxygen shortage,” added Moore.
Due to the shortage, Tampa Bay Water says it will temporarily change treatment to use sodium hypochlorite, commonly known as bleach, instead. The change at the supplier’s Lithia Hydrogen Sulfide Removal Facility will begin Thursday, Aug. 26.
“Water provided to Hillsborough County Public Utilities customers will continue to meet all local, state and federal regulations for drinking water,” the county said in its notice. “Consumers who are sensitive to taste and odor changes in drinking water might notice a slight change during this period; however, this treatment change will not alter the quality of the drinking water.”
8 On Your Side spoke with a few residents in South Hillsborough County, who said they haven’t noticed anything different about their water.
“I drink water tons of water, 24/7. If there were any difference, I would have noticed it,” said Elinor Froemsdorf.
Tampa Bay Water says it’s also adjusting the “regional blend of water sources” to accommodate the lack of liquid oxygen.
“The regional water supply is a blend of three sources of water – groundwater, river water and desalinated seawater,” a notice on the website said. “Depending on environmental, weather and other factors, the blend of water shifts throughout the year as part of normal utility operations.”
Hillsborough County and Tampa Bay Water both say residents can help preserve the region’s drinking water by eliminating non-essential water uses. Non-essential water uses include watering lawns when it’s raining, using pressure washers and washing vehicles at home.
Tampa Water Department has also announced it is changing its water treatment method due to the lack of liquid oxygen.