Greenville’s Water Plant Receives Notable Award

Greenville Utilities Water Treatment Plant was recently among 56 water systems, in North Carolina, recognized for exceeding required water standards. The Area Wide Optimization Award is given annually to water treatment facilities that draw from surface water supplies. The Area Wide Optimization Program focuses on water system’s efforts to reduce turbidity- the cloudiness found in water caused by large numbers of particles that are usually invisible to the naked eye. Eliminating particles lessens the amount of chemicals needed to process water, which reduces byproducts in the water. It also saves money because the plant doesn’t use as much chlorine and other chemicals.  Located in North Carolina, the Tar River is very turbid because its water comes from tributaries that run through swamps, adding tannins and plant material to the water. The Tar River tends to be a highly variable source of water.  A week with daily rains speeds up the flow through swamps into the river, increasing the level of tannins.

Removing particles starts with allowing raw river water to settle in the treatment plant’s impoundment area for six days, the water then flows to the sedimentation basin where 85-95 percent of the clumps settle to the bottom of the basin. The water then goes through an ozonation process which is 100 times more powerful than chlorine for treating water. Ozonation is a chemical water treatment technique based on the infusion of ozone into water. Once the filtration process is finished and the fluoride, chlorine and anti-corrosive chemicals are added, the water then goes to one of the three-million gallon storage tanks where it’s held before being pumped to customers.  Plant operators are continuously testing the river’s water to determine its turbidity so they can make the necessary adjustments.

Interesting fact: The Tar River spiny mussel is one of only three freshwater mussels with spines in the world.

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