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Your water: From the ground to your tap

Keeping drinking water safe is a full time job
Posted: 1:50 PM, Nov 16, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-16 23:25:11Z

Southwest Floridians consume millions of gallons of water per day, and while many people may take it for granted, keeping that water clean and safe is no easy task.

Collier County’s north water treatment plant is capable of producing 20 million gallons of water per day.

"Certified operators on staff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” said Utilities manager Steve Messner. 

The water is drawn from hundreds of feet below the surface of the earth, and sent through two separate filtration stages.

"As the aquifers flow through, the underground systems, it picks up things like hardness, inorganics things like that,” said Messner.

Once water enters the plant, its run through industrial-sized tubes to remove those impurities, then treated with the right amount of chemicals.  It’s then stored in two 6 million gallon tanks before being distributed into the system.

"The water leaving the plant is one thing, but we want to make sure the water in the system, the extremities of the system is of high quality as well,” said Messner.

The county tests for E-Coli and residue from chemicals used to clean the water.

None of those contaminants were found in samples taken from this water line on off Vanderbilt Beach Road and Ridgewood Drive,  according to a report from August.

"We are a large system, so we are required to do 150 random samples, according to a sample plan, each month throughout the distribution system,” said Messner.

Lee County's recently opened Green Meadows treatment plant, cranks out 14 gallons of water a day, up from the 9 million the old facility produced.

Workers take samples of the water during the various stages of the treatment process to make sure there isn't too much, or too few chemicals being used to treat it.

"If we see that something may be not right, or not normal, then we will adjust the treatment process and bring it back in line,” said Lee Utilities Manager Mikes Majllakakis.

Most of the water treatment plants in Lee, Collier and Charlotte are located in wooded areas, behind fences without a lot of signage.

Inside, with relative anonymity, people are working 24 hours a day to make sure the water you depend on every day is safe to drink.

"Absolutely, no question about it, it's 100 percent safe, meets all standards,” said Messner.

A spokesperson with Charlotte County utilities says it tests water well above the monthly minimum required by the state, at both of its treatment facilities