GCWW adds extra layer to water treatment

Oct 2, 2013

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.

The new $30 million UV Disinfection Treatment Facility opens Thursday.
Credit Ann Thompson / WVXU

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: