Reverse Osmosis Water Treatment
The City of Clearwater's Public Utilities Department employs the process of reverse-osmosis to produce some of its own water to supplement the City's potable water supply. This helps the City to produce water at a less expensive rate than it is to purchase water from entities such as Pinellas County and Tampa Bay Water.
What is Reverse Osmosis?
Reverse osmosis is a water treatment process that uses pressure to separate undesirable, dissolved salts and other ions from water. Pressurized water is applied to a semi-permeable membrane. The membrane allows the water molecules to pass through the membrane, but rejects the dissolved salts and other ions. The process results in two streams - permeate and concentrate. For potable water production, permeate is the water that is used for drinking, and the concentrate is disposed. Reverse osmosis treatment systems come in a variety of sizes, from the 25 million-gallon-per-day facility in Gibsonton, Fla., to small home units that can produce 12 to 15 gallons per day.
Where Does Our Water Come From?
Clearwater's water supply is produced from the Upper Floridian Aquifer on the Pinellas Peninsula. Since the 1920s, the City has produced water from our own local wellfield. Over time, however, increased mineralization has forced the abandonment of certain wells, thus reducing the amount of water produced from the wellfield.
The City of Clearwater owns and operates numerous groundwater wells, which draw water from the Floridan Aquifer. Each well is equipped with radio telemetry, which allows Water Plant Operators to control the pumping rate. The telemetry signals back to the plant control system, the flow setting, the actual flow rate, and the water level in the well.
How is My Water Treated?
The water from several of the City's production wells enters the reverse osmosis plant. All water entering the treatment plant is processed through sand filters, to remove large particulates and minerals. A portion of the filtered water is then processed through the reverse-osmosis membranes. The resulting permeate is blended with filtered water, and then it is stabilized and disinfected before being distributed to customers.