Bay County tests alternative water treatment product

With recent supply chain shortages, Bay County is working to get ahead of the game -- trying to prevent any issues with the area's drinking water.
Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 5:25 PM CST
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - With recent supply chain shortages, Bay County is working to get ahead of the game and prevent any issues that could impact the area’s drinking water.

Beginning Monday, Bay County Utility Services (BCUS) will be trialing a different chemical to clean the area’s drinking water. It’s a two-week pilot program approved by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. If it does work, officials said it could come with some other benefits as well.

Keeping clean water flowing is the goal for BCUS, but this past year’s supply chain issues haven’t made it easy.

“Everything drinking, showering, cooking, serves the entire county,” Sean Lathrop, the Superintendent of Bay County Utility Water Services, said. “One of our chemical companies had a hard time getting our treatment chemical to us.”

The risk of not having safe water is one Lathrop said he doesn’t want to take, which is why the department decided to try an alternative chemical.

“So during that time, we decided to take the initiative to look at a different treatment chemical,” Lathrop said. “The main coagulant right now is ferric sulfate and this new one is going to be aluminum chloride. Does the same exact thing to the water. It’s just a reaction from the positive and the negative.”

Not only is it more accessible, but it’s also safer for workers.

Right now, we use sulfuric acid for Ph control, and we would not have to use that anymore,” Lathrop said.

It could also save the county some big bucks.

“It has the possibility to save between $100,000 to $200,000 a year,” Lathrop said.

The pilot program will only be tested using half the plant.

“As you can see here, we have two basins. So, one of our basins is going to be running the main coagulant that we use today, and the other basin is going to be the trial,” Lathrop said.

If something goes wrong, the other filters are on standby and ready to switch back to normal operations.