After a decade of development, 6 years of construction, and one year of testing, the world’s largest municipal ultraviolet water purification system has been officially opened. The Catskill/Delaware Facility will provide an added layer of protection against harmful micro-organisms for the drinking water by adding ultraviolet sanitization to the water’s treatment process. The 270,000 square-foot facility is designed to treat more than 2 billion gallons of water each day, specifically to remove the micro-organisms, Cryptosporidium and Giardia.
While Cryptosporidium and Giardia are naturally occurring micro-organisms found in water, they cause gastrointestinal illnesses for humans when ingested. A series of studies conducted in the late 1990s by the Water Research Foundation, with funding contributed by New York City, researchers discovered that exposing water to low levels of ultraviolet light was effective at rendering Cryptosporidium and Giardia harmless to humans. The ultraviolet light destroys the DNA of the bacteria in the water, causing the bacteria to lose the ability to reproduce, thus leaving the bacteria harmless.
Since 2002 the Bloomberg administration has invested over $10 billion in water supply and distribution infrastructure to ensure clean and readily available water supply for the present and future generations. As Deputy Mayor for Operations, Cas Holloway stated “New York’s water is the best in the world, and now every gallon that travels from the update watershed to the City will be treated with ultraviolet light, providing an extra level of protection to the 9 million people and businesses that rely on our water supply every day. This long-term investment will ensure that New Yorkers can rely on their fresh, clean, great-tasting water supply for generations to come.”
However, UV light does not remove dissolved organics or inorganic compounds – like chemical contamination. Nor does it protect the clean water as it travels through an aging drinking water infrastructure. Though point-of-use, or bottleless, water coolers will ensure clean, great-tasting water no matter what the water encounters on its travels from the state-of-the-art treatment plant to your glass.