Why your water will soon be even cleaner

Local company's UV water system ramping up

CINCINNATI -- Napa Valley has its wine, Silicon Valley has its computer entrepreneurs, and some say Cincinnati may be known in the future for its water.

"We're right up there with the big players," said Debbie Metz, the superintendent of water quality and treatment at Greater Cincinnati Water Works.

In the game of water, the Tri-State holds its own and then some. In the near future, water could bring $2.1 billion a year in water related business to our region.

One example, we're just days away from a $30 million UV water system going online, and our water will go from the Ohio River right into our homes.

The system contains seven pipes with ultraviolet lights that will soon be disinfecting the 240 million gallons that flow through Greater Cincinnati Water Works every day.

"When the water arrives at the UV system it is very clear, very clean; the light is able to penetrate with very little energy and do the job of inactivating the microorganisms," said Metz.

Greater Cincinnati Water Works says the UV  lamps will kill any germs that make it through the conventional filtering process, one of those being cryptosporidium, which has closed down Tri-State pools.

"We will have the largest facility in North America that will have UV preceded by rapid sand filters and the granulated activated carbon system," said Metz.

A similar technology is putting one Tri-State company on the world-wide water map. Aquionics in Erlanger is posed to hire dozens and continues to expand. Its mercury-free LED lamps sterilizes viruses and bacteria so they cannot reproduce.

Its systems are sterilizing water in Procter & Gamble's Pantene plant, Hillshire farms, and the Sam Adams Brewery  

"To get a good tasting quality product they need very consistent water between their different sights, around the country, around the world, and UV allows them that consistency of product," said Lawal.

Aquionics UV systems are in local YMCA, high school and college pools and even the pool at Camp David.

Aquionics has a new LED product that is used for treating surfaces. The smaller LED lamps can also be used in household appliances to keep fruits and veggies fresh.

Lawal explained that they can even use UV technology for the new Greek yogurt fad.  Eventually he hopes all of our water bottles will use a UV filter.

Metz says we have some of the cleanest water in the country and it will soon be even cleaner.

"You're going to get a better drink of water, the disinfection is even going to be better and this is going to be achieved at a very reasonable price," said Metz.

Water really does make the world go 'round, according to Lawal.

"To make computers and electronics go quicker it is very much related to how clean the water is, so the reason we have smartphones now is really because we have water treatment," said Lawal.

Metz, the superintendent of Greater Cincinnati's Water Works does not filter her water at home, she drinks it right from the tap.

This story is part of a five-day series, in collaboration with WVXU, examining the region's water technology potential, which could pump billions of dollars into the local economy each year. The series airs on WVXU and is being published on WCPO.com the week of Sept. 23 through Sept. 27. Go to http://www.wcpo.com/liquid-assets for more. You can also read WVXU's stories at http://wvxu.org/term/liquid-assets.

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