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GCWW adds extra layer to water treatment

Ann Thompson

With Thursday's ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new UV Disinfection Treatment Facility, Cincinnati will lead North America in water treatment. It will be the first to use UV disinfection following sand filtration and Granular Activated Carbon during the treatment process.

UV light, generated when reactors excite mercury, is one of the final steps in the water treatment process in Cincinnati. Here are the others, in this order:

  1. Coagulation to take out the big impurities
  2. Sand-filtration
  3. Granular Activated Carbon absorption
  4. UV
  5. Chlorine

Eight reactors, inside the $30 million building, excite a small amount of mercury and that creates the UV light. The treatment just take a few seconds.
Assistant Superintendent Bruce Whitteberry says much of the process is automated and it's safe. "Once the UV light hits the water it does the disinfection, it goes away. There's no residual, there's no by-products in the water, so the water simply comes out of one end of the reactor purer than it went into the other end."

About 14 years ago the EPA discovered UV was one of the most economically effective treatments to purify drinking water.

It will add about $4 a year to your bill. UV helps remove microorganisms possibly missed by the other treatments.

It was almost three years ago the UV facility was still in the planning stages, as seen in this video:



Ann Thompson has years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology