Our raw water intakes sit far out into the lake away from pollution sources, but no raw and untreated lake water is safe to drink without some level of treatment – even when that water comes from a great source like Lake Erie. Every day at each of our four water treatment plants, we carefully and consistently treat the water we draw from the lake with chemicals. It may sound scary but these chemicals make it possible for you to receive safe, quality, great-tasting water wherever and whenever you need it; and, in the hands of our well-trained, experienced water quality experts, you can rest assured.
Some of the chemicals we use help to remove harmful pathogens and debris from the raw water. Some, like chlorine, disinfect treated water. And some, like orthophosphate, are used to ensure continued safety all the way to your tap. Depending upon the quality of the raw water we get from Lake Erie, we may add more or less of these chemicals to meet our target drinking water quality.
Most important of these targets is compliance with all regulatory requirements and water standards. However, we view these standards as the bare minimum; our internal standards far exceed these minimums. Below is a list of some of the chemicals we use, all of which are approved for use in drinking water by Ohio EPA through their required National Sanitation Foundation certification.
• Potassium Permanganate, is a chemical used to oxidize (sort of like neutralize) organics in the raw water. It helps with taste and odor, disinfection, and sometimes improves filtering.
• Aluminum Sulfate, also known as Alum, is one of the two most important chemicals we use. It is used to make particles of dirt stick together to make bigger particles which then settle and clarify the water.
• Sodium Hypochlorite, also known as chlorine or bleach, is the other most important chemical we use. It disinfects the clarified water and residual chlorine in the water flows from the plant to your tap to ensure bacterial regrowth and recontamination cannot occur.
• Hydrofluorosilicic Acid, also known as fluoride is required by state law to help prevent dental cavities.
• Phosphoric Acid, also known as orthophosphate, is used to prevent lead and copper corrosion by forming a film on the inside of pipes and the plumbing inside your home.
• Sodium Hydroxide or caustic soda is only ever used when we have to raise the pH of the treated water to meet other treatment objectives.
• Polymer Agents are proprietary chemicals that are sometimes used to help clarify the water further or to help our filters do an even better job of removing particles from the water at the end of the treatment process.
To learn more about our water quality and treatment process, please click here. To speak with one of our water quality experts, call 216-664-2639 or visit us at our annual Drinking Water Week Open House each year in early May. More information about our 2017 Open House can be found here.