Tampa Bay Water alters water treatment because of lack of liquid oxygen amid COVID-19 surge

COVID-19 Tampa 813
The agency is urging residents to cut back on non-essential water usage.

Tampa Bay Water is temporarily changing treatment at a facility servicing south Hillsborough County starting Thursday because of a lack of liquid oxygen deliveries amid Florida’s COVID-19 outbreak.

The impacted center is the Lithia Hydrogen Sulfide Removal Facility, which uses liquid oxygen to remove hydrogen sulfide from water, according to a news release. The liquid oxygen supply previously directed to the facility is being diverted to local Tampa Bay area hospitals that need it to keep people breathing as COVID-19 cases continue to flood intensive care units.

“The lack of deliveries of liquid oxygen is due to a driver shortage caused by the COVID pandemic and the need for available supplies to be diverted to local hospitals,” a news release from the agency reads. “The agency continues to work with its vendors to restore regular deliveries.”

The agency will be changing the treatment to sodium hypochlorite, commonly known as bleach, which will keep the water safe to use.

Water from the facility will continue to meet all local, state and federal regulations for drinking water, the news release said. However, some residents may notice taste and odor changes.

The agency is also adjusting the regional blend of water sources to accommodate the change in available deliveries of liquid oxygen, a common adjustment made throughout the year in response to environmental, weather and other factors.

Tampa Bay Water is also urging residents to help preserve drinking water by cutting out nonessential use like watering lawns, using pressure washers and washing cars at home.

Tampa Bay is just the latest area to make changes amid liquid oxygen shortages. Last Friday, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer urged residents to stop watering their lawns for at least two weeks as liquid oxygen supply to Central Florida’s water treatment centers diminished in order to treat COVID-19 patients.

At the same time, the state is reaching record numbers of COVID-19 deaths.

The state’s official death toll rose 1,486 in last Friday’s weekly COVID-19 report from the Florida Department of Health. That one-week increase was by far the single-biggest weekly increase since the Sunshine State’s first COVID-19 fatalities were confirmed in March 2020.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected].


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