Adventures in Water Part II

In Katy’s quest to find out all she can about water, we visited the Atlanta-Fulton County Water Treatment Plant this morning.

What better adornment at a water-treatment plant than water?

We went into a lab where faucets are running with water from different stages of treatment.

Left, water from the river; right, water all cleaned up

The water coming straight from the river seemed to be pretty clean. Amazing as if you’ve ever seen the Chattahoochee River it is brown and yucky! Some type of aluminum is added to the water to help all the dirt coagulate and settle to the bottom. We filled a beaker with water, added the aluminum and checked on it about 30 minutes later. You can see a little of the gunk swirling around.

Our jar of water with the dirt stirred up.

Our tour guide, Leon, said the biggest issue in the water is things you can’t see, like pharmaceuticals. Here are the filters that are really getting the gunk out of the water.

All that brown you see is contaminants
Katy helping keep tabs on the plant

This electronic board shows the whole process and helps the operators to know how much water is being released, what pressure and other information.

Water is disinfected by adding chlorine gas to it. Leon told us that upgrades are being made to use a type of bleach instead, which is less dangerous. He used to work at the DeKalb Count water plant and he said they use ozone, which is the top-of-the-line disinfecting system. We also learned that they add phosphorous to the water to keep it from corroding the pipes. That was very interesting after learning at the waste-water plant that they have to take phosphorous out before putting it back into the river. We didn’t know it had been intentionally added.

After it’s all cleaned up and disinfected, it’s pumped out into the storage tanks and the system.

The small pumps on the left are for Atlanta.
The larger pumps on the right are for Fulton County,
which has more people and requires more water.

We also got a neat chart that shows the whole cycle from river to plant to consumer to wastewater plant and back to the river.

So, if they learn about municipal water in school this year, Katy will be all set. And she got quite a bit done toward her Girl Scout Water Wonders badge.

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