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Total Organic Carbon

Total Organic Carbon Contamination in Tampa Bay Drinking Water


Total organic carbon (TOC) refers to the amount of carbon found in organic compounds in drinking water. It is made up of particulate and dissolved organic carbon. High levels of TOC in drinking water can lead to potentially harmful disinfection byproducts when the water is treated with disinfectants like chlorine.

Presence of TOC in Tampa Bay Drinking Water

TOC has been detected in drinking water sources across many counties and cities in the Tampa Bay area. According to water quality reports from local municipalities, TOC has been found in treated drinking water in:

Hillsborough County

  • Apollo Beach

  • Brandon

  • Carrollwood

  • Carrollwood Village

  • Cheval

  • Citrus Park

  • Dover

  • FishHawk

  • Gibsonton

  • Keystone

  • Lake Magdalene

  • Lutz

  • Mango

  • Palm River

  • Progress Village

  • Riverview

  • Ruskin

  • Seffner

  • Sun City Center

  • Temple Terrace

  • Thonotosassa

  • Town 'n' Country

  • Valrico

  • Wimauma

Pinellas County

  • Bay Pines

  • Bayonet Point

  • Bee Ridge

  • Clearwater

  • Dunedin

  • East Lake

  • Feather Sound

  • Gulfport

  • Kenneth City

  • Largo

  • Madeira Beach

  • Oldsmar

  • Palm Harbor

  • Pinellas Park

  • Safety Harbor

  • Seminole

  • South Pasadena

  • St. Petersburg

  • Tarpon Springs

  • Treasure Island

Pasco County

  • Aripeka

  • Bayonet Point

  • Beacon Square

  • Elfers

  • Holiday

  • Hudson

  • Hudson Beach

  • Jasmine Estates

  • Land O' Lakes

  • Moon Lake

  • New Port Richey

  • New Port Richey East

  • Odessa

  • Port Richey

  • San Antonio

  • Shady Hills

  • Spring Hill

  • Timber Pines

  • Trinity

  • Wesley Chapel

  • Zephyrhills

Polk County

  • Auburndale

  • Lake Alfred

  • Lake Wales

  • Winter Haven

Hernando County

  • Brookridge

  • Brooksville

  • Hernando Beach

  • Masaryktown

  • Spring Hill

  • Timber Pines

  • Weeki Wachee

Health Concerns of TOC

While TOC itself does not pose a health risk, when TOC is present in source water and chlorine is used for disinfection, harmful disinfection byproducts can form such as trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs).

The EPA has set maximum contaminant levels for THMs and HAAs as they have been linked to increased cancer risk, liver and kidney problems. Pregnant women, infants, young children and the elderly may be at greater risk from THMs and HAAs.

Therefore, TOC is monitored as a precursor for disinfection byproduct formation. TOC concentrations are kept low to control THM and HAA levels.

Water Treatment Solutions for TOC Removal

To reduce TOC levels in drinking water and control disinfection byproduct formation, the following treatment solutions can be effective:

Enhanced Coagulation and Flocculation

Coagulant chemicals are added to clump together organic matter into larger particles that can be more easily filtered out. The coagulation process is optimized to target and reduce TOC.

Ozone Oxidation

Ozone breaks down and oxidizes organic compounds. An ozone system like the HydroClear Ozone Generator from Aqua-Wise introduces ozone into the water which reacts with and destroys TOC.

Activated Carbon Filtration

Activated carbon adsorbs organic compounds through a process called adsorption. An activated carbon filter like the AquaCarbonGuard removes TOC effectively.

Reverse Osmosis

Reverse osmosis (RO) uses a semipermeable membrane to remove dissolved solids, organic matter and microorganisms from water. RO systems like the AquaRevive achieve high TOC reduction.

Ion Exchange

Ion exchange resins trade ions with organic compounds in the water to remove TOC. IX is often used along with RO.


TOC contamination is prevalent in many Tampa Bay area drinking water sources. While not a health concern directly, TOC leads to disinfection byproduct formation when chlorine is used. By installing treatment solutions like ozone, activated carbon filtration and reverse osmosis, homeowners can reduce TOC levels for safer, cleaner drinking water.

Sources and Additional Resources

  • City of Tampa Water Quality Report

  • Pinellas County Utilities Water Quality Report

  • Hillsborough County Water Quality Reports

  • USGS: Organic Compounds in Tampa Bay Area Rivers and Streams

  • Effects of Total Organic Carbon on Disinfection Byproducts

Schedule Your FREE Water Test Today: 727-236-7161

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