CLEARWATER — The installation of fluoride delivery systems at two of the city’s water treatment plants should be complete sometime in March, the city’s utilities director said last week.
The new storage tanks and pumps are designed to increase the level of fluoride in the city’s drinking water to .7 parts per million (ppm), which the federal government recommends for fighting tooth decay.
Though the city’s water doesn’t yet have the recommended amount of fluoride, there’s some of the chemical already in the water.
“The city’s water already is partially fluoridated from the water we receive from Pinellas County’s water system,” said David Porter, the man in charge of the city’s water quality.
Before installing the new fluoridation equipment, the city must first finish converting two of its water treatment plants to reverse osmosis (RO) facilities, which use pressure to separate and remove dissolved salts and other ions to treat drinking water.
“Reverse Osmosis No. 1 (RO1), will go online sometime in March; Reverse Osmosis No. 2, (R02), was built and went online in 2015,” Porter said. “That means two of our largest production facilities will be providing fluoridated water.”
A third water treatment plant’s conversion to reverse osmosis is on hold until a master plan for the city’s drinking water system is completed, he said.
That third plant is the point at which Pinellas County water – which is already fluoridated – enters the city’s drinking water distribution system, Porter said.
Clearwater’s water system also has some naturally recurring fluoride in its wells, too, but when the fluoridation equipment at the two reverse osmosis plants goes online, they will bring Clearwater’s fluoridation level to federally recommended levels, Porter said.
Injecting fluoride into the Clearwater water treatment plants is a simple process.
“There’s a chemical storage tank [in the facility] that says ‘Flouride’ on it,” he said. “You get deliveries of fluoride compound in liquid form from a chemical supply company. They put it in the [storage] tanks for you, and you have a pump that meters into the water like any other chemical we have as it leaves the plants,” Porter said. “It’s all automatically metered. As the plant fluoride goes up, the amount of fluoride added is reduced.”
The fluoride injection systems cost $250,000 at each of the two water treatment plants, for a total cost of $500,000, Porter said.
Once Porter’s engineers start-up the new fluoride feed systems in late February and then place them into full operation in March, the fluoride levels should steady at .7 ppm, Porter said.
According to Clearwater’s Utility Department, Clearwater’s residents use about 11.2 million gallons of potable water each day; about 80 percent is pumped from city-owned and operated groundwater wells. The rest is purchased from Pinellas County Utilities.
Clearwater’s water wells are fed by the Floridan Aquifer. The huge, underground gulf is one of the largest sources of groundwater in the United States. It underlies all of Florida, southern Georgia, and small parts of Alabama and South Carolina.
Porter, who was a consulting engineer serving utility clients throughout Florida for many years, came out of early retirement in 2010 to manage Clearwater’s wastewater treatment facilities. He became utilities director in 2015.
His department is taking a long, hard look at the network of pipes, pumps, filters, and other equipment that delivers drinking water to the city’s 110,000 residents. The Utility Department already has a master plan for its wastewater collection and transmission system, and is designing a master plan for water reclamation and effluent disposal facilities, Porter said.
“Much of what we have was built many, many years ago,” he said.
*Original article online at https://www.tbnweekly.com/clearwater_beacon/article_703e3818-1f38-11e9-b1a0-571f44be136e.html