Cincinnati introduces ultraviolet water disinfection

By Emily Wood - email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Public drinking water for people in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky is about to get a lot cleaner and a bit more expensive.

Using around 12 steps to improve your drinking water, Greater Cincinnati Water Works is adding another step. It's going to be using ultraviolet rays, but scientists say it will not slow down the process.

"It's really interesting process, it takes place in milliseconds," said Debbie Metz, Water Quality and Treatment Supervisor.

Scientists, engineers and Mayor Mark Mallory broke ground Thursday at a new facility that will give residents in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky some of the cleanest drinking water in the world.

Ultraviolet is a physical disinfection process that does not use any chemicals.

"The water flows over the lamps and the lamps have a special wavelength that penetrates the germs and goes right to their genetic material," said Metz.

When a UV ray hits a germ, it zaps the cell's DNA, making it neutral and impossible to reproduce, therefore preventing spread of infection.

"This provides us another barrier to ensure it doesn't break through and get into the public water system so it's kind of a safety net to make sure the water treatment process is still effective," said David Rager, Greater Cincinnati Water Works Director.

The entire project cost $30 million, but water customers will only be seeing an 30 cent increase on their bill.

The ultraviolet treatment facility is set to be completed by 2012 which will make it the largest water utility of its kind in North America.