The water treatment process is key to making sure the public has safe water for general purposes and clean water to drink. There is no dispute about the level of positive impact safe drinking water has on public health. The six common practices listed below are also necessary practices to ensure federal quality standards are met. These practices keep out toxic levels of levels of inorganic, organic, bacterial and possibly radioactive contaminants.
Water arriving from various sources, such as rivers, lakes or the earth enters the treatment facility through a screen. The screening process is particularly crucial for water originating from a river or lake because screening blocks out wood, plants and fish. Ground water is screened despite several layers of earth serving as a natural process.
Coagulation and Flocculation
At this stage, positive charged chemicals are added to the water. The negative charge of earth and other impurities is negated by the chemicals’ positive charge, and the neutralized particles attach to the chemicals. New, larger particles are the result. They are known as floc.
The floc and water are sent down into a basin for sedimentation. The sedimentation process is fairly natural at this point. The larger floc particles eventually all go to the bottom until they are are taken out.
Water is sent through several layers of sand and gravel. Some water treatment facilities use charcoal too. The layers filter out any particles left after the sedimentation process. Typically, the sand is over two feet deep and the gravel layer is around a foot deep.
The filtered water flows into a reservoir or closed area. Once there, chlorine and other chemicals are used to kill anything alive in the water, and the chemicals maintain cleanliness until the water is distributed. When it is ready to be distributed, the treated water is released from the closed area to go through pipes until it reaches people.
Water fluoridation is when fluoride is carefully added to the water supply in low levels to assist in the overall dental health of the public by preventing tooth decay. The fluoridation of community water has been done safely and effectively for several decades now. According to the CDC, the water fluoridation process is one of the 10 best achievements in public health for the 20th century.
Water treatment practices have become an exact science. Despite them being done over and over with very few mistakes, the water is still tested for quality, and adjustments are made to these practices whenever necessary. These six steps take place daily before the water ever touches the public’s lips or skin.