Monday, June 18, 2012
How Denton gets its water so tasty
The water is tested every 15 minutes.
DENTON For residents of Denton, some of the best-tasting water in the country is always on tap. The city was a top-5 finalist in the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ 2011 “Best Tasting City Water in America” contest, and the state of Texas recently awarded Denton with “superior” water status.
Two separate water treatment facilities are constantly at work, churning millions of gallons of natural water into a superior product that meets the demands of almost 120,000 residents. Lake Ray Roberts Water Treatment facility operator Ken Blount said water quality is tested every 15 minutes to ensure the water’s excellence is never compromised, a process he called a cut above the spot-checking conducted by bottled water companies.
As water moves through the various stages of the treatment process, it gradually becomes cleaner and has a visibility similar to that of a swimming pool.
“It’s always inviting,” Blount said.
But Blount and the experienced team of facility operators know that there’s more to be done before anyone can take a dip. The first stage of the treatment process begins with water drawn from both Lake Ray Roberts and Lake Lewisville.
The water then goes through a coagulation and flocculation process, where the chemical compound ferric sulfate is used to clump up the “sludge” found in the water.
After that, the water enters the second stage of the process, called sedimentation, where the sludge is given time to settle to the bottom before the top layer of water is scooped out and given a minimal dose of chlorine with ammonia at the Lake Lewisville plant and Ozone at the Lake Ray Roberts plant.
The Lake Lewisville Treatment Plant will soon join the Lake Ray Roberts Water Treatment Plant in using the safer and more effective cleaning agent, Ozone, said regulatory coordinator Kathy Gault.
“The safety has always been there," said Kathy Gault, regulatory coordinator at the Lake Lewisville plant. “I think we have the safest plant anywhere.”
With the addition of Ozone, the two water treatment plants will give all Denton residents the same great-tasting water. Another stage of the process, called filtration, uses anthracite, sand, and gravel to rid the water of any leftover sediment and then gives it a final minimal dose of chlorine mixed with other non-harmful chemicals to ensure that it arrives safely from the plant to your home.
While the process is fairly standard, the demands are not. Fluctuating water demands mean that the plants are constantly making adjustments to meet the city’s needs.
Despite these stresses, the treatments plants have never been forced to turn to emergency status or ration water, even in the case of last summer’s drought.
The city of Denton uses an estimated 18.5 million gallons a day (mgd), and both plants combined have a max output of about 50 mgd.
The Lake Ray Roberts Plant, which is set to expand its 20 mgd capacity to 100 million mgd in the next several, is equipped with backup generators to keep showers, dishwashers, and slip n’ slides going in case of a power outage.
“In the beginning we had to learn a better way to operate,” Gault said.
Now it seems the plant, armed with an alphabet’s worth of backup plans, has figured out the balancing act, and plans to stay on top of the water world. Plans are even in place to begin checking the water for different hormones.
“The water in Denton is going to get a lot better in the future,” Blount said.
Pegasus News Content partner - North Texas Daily