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There are nine general steps that are taken to get drinking water into your home. These nine steps are all critical and your local plumbing service will be able to get you more details on that as well as the unique issues that have arisen in the past in Jacksonville, FL.
Your municipal water will collect from a local water source, in the case of Jacksonville, FL that is the Floridan aquifer that supplied water to over 10 million people. The water is pumped up from his aquifer and transferred to a water treatment plant via pipelines and pumps. At the water plant, even larger pumps will move the water into the treatment facilities and use gravity as much as possible to reduce costs. Many plants blend groundwater with surface water to improve the final result. Your local plumbing service isn’t equipped to work on those pipes.
Screening & Straining
Much like a plumbing service can install a water filtration service in your home, the water delivered to your home goes through a similar, albeit more complete, process. The water brought to the plant will have imperfections in it like plant and animal matter, trash, pollution, and microorganisms. Some items may be so big that they block up the water pumps at the facility so to prevent that water is screened usually by a large metal screen at the basin of the water intake. These are cleaned regularly to ensure the proper passage of water.
Adding chemicals to the retrieved water helps sanitize the water and makes it safe for regular consumption. Sometimes, however, too much or too little of a product makes it up to your house and a plumber could help you test your water and ensure it’s not your pipes. These chemicals help congeal the impurities together making them easy to remove. These congealed particles are gelatinous flocs and come together using coagulants like aluminum sulfate. There are other chemicals that could be used like ferrous sulfate, sodium aluminate, or activate silica. More advanced plants will use manufactured chemicals called cationic polymers, anionic polymers, and nonionic polymers mixed to form a heavier flock.
Coagulation & Flocculation
Up next a rapid mix unit is used where the chosen coagulant is added to the water to provide a quick and thorough mix. This mixing is slowed to allow water to come into contact with the flocs to increase their size. This mixing is gentle so the floc can grow without breaking up but just fast enough to suspend the flocs away from the water. This churning process is called flocculation. Your plumbing service will thankfully never have to really deal with this as these chunks are removed and processed before transportation to your home.
Sedimentation and Clarification
After the flocculation process is finished the water passes over a weir, which is a high level that will keep the sediments below and the cleaned water above it and will go into the part of the water treatment plant called a clarifier or sedimentation basin. It is here that the water is separated from the flocs for the final time and this weir can act as a rake depending on the plant’s construction. As the water circulates the flocs travel until they are stuck. At this point, a large pump will pull the settled flocs that now resemble sludge out of the clarifier and send it to a sedimentation pond. The water then reaches the first stage of true filtration. Clarification happens before the filtration to prevent the overloading of the filters. If you have sediment in your water at your home your plumbing service will be able to use a water filtration system that does this on a much smaller scale.
Now that the water has been clarified of large sediment deposits it’s time to enter this clarified water into the filtration pits. Gravity pulls the water through the filters and is collected at the bottom of the unit. Just like your plumbing service can install multiple-stage water filters your municipal water service does the same thing. They’ll run through different types of material, or media, filters. This includes sand and gravel and could also include charcoal or activated carbon. These granules help filter out impurities and also remove items that can leave unpleasant odors or taste in the water.
Now that the water is filtered it’s time to remove the naturally occurring bacteria. If you’ve ever had a water boil advisory you know that this could be a way to disinfect the water but it is highly inefficient on the scale of a full city water system. The common way is chemical-based using chlorination that can include using chlorine gas, chlorine dioxide, bleach, or other chlorine substances. This chlorine kills the rest of the microorganisms that still exist and also neutralizes certain compounds that may still exist. Levels of chlorine must be strictly enforced to ensure that chlorine levels in your house don’t cause a rash on calls for plumbing service to investigate a bleach smell.
Now that the water is cleaned and disinfected it must be stored in a sterile environment. this can be in underground storage tanks at the facility or at visible storage units around town either at ground level or in towers. Municipalities are required to have a certain amount of water available in case of emergencies like power outages, floods, or water plant failures to ensure the city’s water stays safe.
Now that the water is leaving those storage locations it comes to your home through a series of main feed lines and your home’s plumbing. It can also touch items like fire hydrants before it touches your home’s water meter. Once it’s there, your home’s plumbing is the responsible carrier, and calls for issues go to a plumbing service.
When you’re having problems with your pipes or water quality you need a plumbing service you can trust. Bert Norman’s Plumbing out of Yulee services the area and is ready to help you.