“For the locals.”


Good afternoon, Mayor Leffingwell and councilmembers.  The big news, since I last spoke here on June 18—apart from the Council’s new look—was a citizens’ tour of the Ullrich water treatment plant that the Austin Water Utility arranged for a group of us. It was fascinating to see one of our large tax-funded municipal public works in action—a facility that’s capable of pumping 167 million gallons of water per day.  Of course there’s no time to get into the details of disinfecting, softening, coagulation, flocculation, settling out and filtration that go to bring raw water from Lake Travis to our taps.  But I did have some questions.

The schematic you see was prominently displayed, but we were told it was out of date.  The fluoride feed has been moved from early in the treatment process—that’s third from the left, shown in white—to the very end, post filtration.  The change was made because a quarter of the fluoride, when injected at the front end, was getting lost somewhere in the process and not making it to the distribution system.  I found that very interesting.  Where did it go?   How was it eventually disposed of?  Anyway, that’s been “fixed.”  100% of it now enters our water supply.

Which brings up another question.  What percentage of the water we pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to fluoridate each year actually gets consumed as drinking water?  I asked one of our tour guides, who laughed and said, “probably a very small amount.”  In fact, the figure is around 1%.  The rest of this pricey hazardous waste chemical is literally going down the drain with the bathwater, the lawn runoff, etc., to join the wastewater stream, from which it re-enters the environment where you could never dump it directly.   When I asked at what level of fluoridation the hundred million-plus gallons of water pumped each day goes back into the river, I was told that was not the Water Utility’s concern, since it doesn’t violate EPA’s limit of 4 ppm.   Which is, unfortunately,  true.  More about this outrageously high EPA limit another day.  Thank you.–tour-of-austin-water-treatment-plant.aspx


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: