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With virus cases down, Tampa and Orlando resume usual water use

ORLANDO — Two of Florida’s largest cities have ended water emergencies now that COVID-19 hospitalizations have declined drastically in the state.

Back in August, the city-owned Orlando Utilities Commission asked residents to stop watering their lawns or washing their cars because liquid oxygen that is used for treating the city’s water was being diverted to hospitals for patients suffering from the virus. The utility made the decision as it faced the prospect of getting only half of its usual shipment of liquid oxygen used for water treatment.

Around the same time, the Tampa Water Department started using chlorine instead of its usual liquid oxygen method to disinfect its water of viruses and bacteria because liquid oxygen was being diverted to local hospitals.

Utility officials in Orlando said Tuesday that residents can resume their normal water use, including irrigating their lawns and washing their cars. In Tampa, water department officials also said they were going back to treating the 82 million gallons (310 million liters) of drinking water it produces each day with liquid oxygen.