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Reducing Harmful Bacteria in Tampa Bay's City Water Systems with Chlorination and Ozonation

Updated: Oct 28, 2023

This article explores methods for reducing harmful bacteria in Tampa Bay's municipal water supply using chlorination and ozonation treatment systems. It covers the risks of contaminated water, explains how chlorination and ozonation work, and discusses Tampa's transition to ozone disinfection for higher quality drinking water.
This article explores methods for reducing harmful bacteria in Tampa Bay's municipal water supply using chlorination and ozonation treatment systems. It covers the risks of contaminated water, explains how chlorination and ozonation work, and discusses Tampa's transition to ozone disinfection for higher quality drinking water.

Ensuring clean and safe drinking water is a top priority for any metropolitan area. For Tampa Bay, Florida, reducing harmful bacteria in the municipal water supply has been an ongoing challenge due to the area's rapid growth and aging infrastructure. Thankfully, modern water treatment solutions like chlorination and ozonation provide effective and reliable methods for disinfecting drinking water to protect public health.

The Risks of Contaminated Drinking Water in Tampa Bay

The Tampa Bay region relies heavily on groundwater from the Floridan Aquifer for its municipal water supply. While the Floridan Aquifer provides high-quality groundwater, aging infrastructure and surface water intrusion can allow contaminants to enter the water system. Harmful bacteria like E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, and Campylobacter are top microbiological risks that can lead to waterborne diseases.

Outbreaks of illness from contaminated drinking water continue to occur in the U.S., underscoring the critical need for adequate disinfection. In 1993, over 400,000 residents of Milwaukee became ill and 104 died during a Cryptosporidium outbreak. More recently in 2021, an E. coli contamination in Brevard County's water system sickened dozens and led to a boil water notice for 72,000 residents.

For water utilities serving the Tampa Bay metro area, preventing such an outbreak is paramount. Advanced disinfection systems provide a key barrier between source water contaminants and customers' taps.

Chlorination - The Traditional Disinfection Method

Chlorination has been the standard method of drinking water disinfection in the U.S. for over a century. When chlorine gas or hypochlorite solutions are added to water, they react with microorganisms and inhibit their growth and reproduction.

Chlorine has proven effective at controlling most bacteria, viruses, and parasites. It provides residual disinfection capacity, meaning it continues working after leaving the treatment plant to keep water sanitary in pipes and storage tanks. The AquaLux Chlorine Injection System provides optimized chlorine dosing for safe residual maintenance.

However, chlorine has drawbacks. Certain pathogens like Cryptosporidium are resistant, requiring very high doses. Byproducts like trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids can form when chlorine reacts with organic compounds. These byproducts are linked to increased cancer and reproductive risks.

The taste and odor issues associated with chlorinated water also leads many homeowners to install whole house water filters like the AquaBlue Whole House Filter or reverse osmosis systems such as AquaRevive. While these remove chlorine at the point of use, they underscore the desirability of alternative disinfectants for the city water supply.

Ozonation Offers Powerful Disinfection Without Byproducts

Ozonation has emerged as an effective chlorine-alternative for municipal water treatment. Ozone is produced when oxygen molecules are exposed to high electrical voltages. The ozone gas dissolves into water and instantly attacks contaminants through oxidation.

Compared to chlorine, ozone is a more powerful disinfectant, faster acting, and effective over a wider pH range. It readily destroys bacteria, viruses, protozoan parasites, and other microorganisms in water.

Ozone also breaks down pesticides, detergents, taste and odor compounds, and other hard-to-treat organics. The HydroClear Ozone Generator harnesses ozone's oxidation power to remove iron, manganese, sulfur, and organic chemicals.

The key advantage of ozone is it leaves no chemical residuals or byproducts. After treatment, any extra ozone converts back to oxygen gas. This makes ozonated water taste and smell fresh.

However, since ozone doesn't maintain a residual, secondary disinfection is needed. A small chlorine dose provides residual protection without the high levels and byproducts formed from chlorine-only treatment.

Optimizing Tampa's Water System with Ozone & Chloramination

Many water utilities across Florida and worldwide have added ozone treatment for its effective disinfection and minimal byproducts. In Florida, ozone is utilized in Orlando, Lake Worth, Boynton Beach, Hollywood, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach County.

The Tampa Water Department has significantly improved water quality over the past decades. Converting from ground to surface water sources, optimizing treatment processes, and rehabilitation projects have enhanced reliability and reduced complaints.

Adding ozone disinfection in place of chlorine gas has been a major milestone. The new ozone treatment systems have increased plant capacity while lowering costs compared to gaseous chlorine.

Combined with chloramination for residual maintenance, Tampa's ozone-chloramine process provides safe, high-quality water for the city. Switching to alternative disinfectants has reduced the levels of problematic chlorine byproducts in system water.

Point-of-Use Solutions for Better Taste, Health, and Appliances

While Tampa's municipal supply meets all federal and state standards, many homeowners opt to install additional water filtration systems for enhanced purity and taste. Reverse osmosis systems like the AquaRevive use a multi-stage filtration process and membrane technology to produce bottled water-quality right from the tap, removing impurities water departments don't target.

Whole house filters like the AquaBlue reduce chloramine taste and odor issues throughout the home. They also protect plumbing and appliances from scale buildup and corrosion caused by hard water.

Catalytic carbon filters such as the AquaCarbonGuard combine active carbon with a proprietary catalytic blend for superior reduction of chlorine, chloramines and other contaminants. Their catalytic technology prevents the filter from clogging prematurely.

For those on well water, systems like WellFusion provide customized treatment targeting the specific issues in your local source water. Their whole-house approach ensures clean, conditioned water for all your household needs.

Keeping Pace with Tampa Bay's Water Needs

As the Tampa region continues expanding, both city utilities and homeowners need to be proactive about maintaining high-quality water. A multi-barrier approach including effective disinfection, distribution system integrity, and point-of-use treatment provides the best assurance of clean, safe water from source to tap.

Partnering with a knowledgeable water treatment provider such as Aqua-Wise Water Treatment Solutions allows you to create a tailored whole-house or point-of-use water system meeting your needs and budget. Their water specialists will test your water and recommend the right solutions, whether you're on city or well water.

With proactive planning and innovative treatment solutions like ozone and chloramination, Tampa Bay can continue to supply its growing population with safer, purer water for decades to come.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Drinking Water Disinfection Byproducts:

City of Tampa Water Department:



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