Residents of New York City will soon be drinking tap water treated by the world’s largest ultraviolet light water treatment plant.

Coming online in two months time, the new UV plant will process nine billion liters of water each day coming from the city’s two major sources of water, the Delaware County and Catskill watersheds located 100 miles north of Manhattan. The plant is being built in response to new regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requiring a secondary cleaning method in addition to chlorine, which has been used to clean the city’s water for years.

The $1.6 billion Catskill–Delaware Ultraviolet Disinfection Facility being built by Trojan Technologies in Westchester County, N.Y is made up of 56 ultraviolet units containing 240 UV lamps. According to Scientific American, water will move through the system at 5 feet per second just centimeters away from the lamps, which will “alter the DNA of cryptosporidium, giardia and other waterborne pathogens rendering them unable to replicate.” This will reduce the chances of water-related stomach and health issues from drinking the water.

On peak days the facility will draw 6.3 megawatts of power, but that seems like a small price to pay for clean water in the country’s most densely-populated city. The city’s only other option for a secondary treatment system was feeding the water through a massive filtration system made up of porous materials such as sand, gravel and charcoal, but that would have been even more expensive than the $1.6 billion price tag for this UV plant. Above all else, anything that we can do to encourage the consumption of tap water over water packaged in plastic bottles is worth the price of admission, and this plant should do just that.

[via Innovation News Daily and Scientific American]

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