The City of Clearwater's sustainability initiatives continue as they break ground on the second reverse osmosis (RO) water treatment plant.
The plant, located on U.S. Highway 19 N., will use state-of-the-art technology to treat up to 6.25 million gallons of brackish (or slightly salty) water, turning it into clean drinking water for city residents.
Reverse osmosis, also known as hyperfiltration, is a water purification process that is used by major bottled water companies. It reduces the salts, minerals, ions and other impurities, leaving high quality drinking water. The brackish water would not be drinkable without the RO process and doesn’t have alternative uses.
The $34 million project is being funded cooperatively by the Southwest Florida Water Management District and has created new jobs for contractors, electrical engineers, plumbers and construction workers.
The plant is part of the city's integrative water management strategy, which includes five tactical areas: in-home water conversation including the use of reclaimed water; preservation of drinking water resources; protecting the coastal environment by decreasing discharge to local bodies of water; producing more locally; and cost management.
"Everything we do in public utilities is to try to be sustainable as possible, and to responsibly use the water resources we have," says Nan Bennett, assistant director or public utilities for the City of Clearwater
In an innovative move, the city is taking the concentrate, a salty by-product produced by its existing RO plant and treating it again in the second plant, allowing less water to be withdrawn from the ground supply. Another project currently in the pilot phase involves ground water replenishment, or taking leftover reclaimed water, treating it through the RO process and injecting it back into the aquifer. This creates a complete water cycle, naturally balancing the water supply.
Construction will begin in June, with estimated completion in December 2014.
Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Nan Bennett, Tracy Mercer, City of Clearwater