An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

Tampa Bay Water on liquid oxygen, shortages, and the pandemic

Tampa Bay Water's acting chief operating officer discusses the impact of COVID-19 to the local water supply, and what part part liquid oxygen plays in that.

Liquid oxygen — often used to treat tap water — is in short supply because it's needed for hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

WUSF's Daylina Miller spoke with Tampa Bay Water Acting Chief Operating Officer Jack Thornburgh about what that means for the area's water supply.

Daylina Miller: Cities like Tampa and Orlando are asking residents to cut down on unnecessary water use because the hospitals need liquid oxygen for COVID-19 patients. What is liquid oxygen and how's it used for treating water?

Jack Thornburgh: "Liquid oxygen is used in our plant to generate ozone. And ozone is a very powerful disinfectant that has a very short lifespan. So it can be used in places where normally chlorine would be used or some people call, you know, bleach, sodium hypochlorite. But the benefit of it is it has such a short lifespan and it's very powerful, and it doesn't combine with other compounds that make it not good for human consumption. So it is a preferable disinfectant."

Miller: Tampa Bay water announced recently that liquid oxygen would be replaced temporarily by bleach for treatment. But drinking water would still be meeting local, state and federal regulations. Can you tell us more about that?