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Liquid Oxygen Shortage During COVID Means Hillsborough Water Treated With Bleach

Hillsborough County officials say the water still meets local, state and federal regulations, but may have a different taste and smell.

Hillsborough County officials announced on its website that Tampa Bay Water will temporarily change its water treatment process starting Thursday.

Due to a lack of liquid oxygen deliveries to the facility, Tampa Bay Water is changing the treatment at its Lithia Hydrogen Sulfide Removal Facility from liquid oxygen to sodium hypochlorite, commonly known as bleach.

Liquid oxygen helps remove hydrogen sulfide from the water coming out of this facility, which supplies the South Hillsborough County service area.

The change in water treatment, the county said, is due to the lack of deliveries of liquid oxygen because of a delivery driver shortage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need for available supplies to be diverted to local hospitals.

The county's statement issued Wednesday said: “Water provided to Hillsborough County Public Utilities customers will continue to meet all local, state, and federal regulations for drinking water. Consumers who are sensitive to taste and odor changes in drinking water might notice a slight change during this period; however, this treatment change will not alter the quality of the drinking water.”

Tampa Bay Water officials issued their own statement as well: “While the chemistry of sources is different, the result is the same – high-quality drinking water that meets or is better than all local, state and federal standards.”

Hillsborough County officials recommend that customers help preserve the region's drinking water by eliminating nonessential water uses, including watering lawns when it's raining, using pressure washers, and washing vehicles at home.

Hillsborough County Public Utilities customers with additional questions may contact Hillsborough County Water Quality at (813) 264-3835 or (813) 744-5544.

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