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Tampa Water Department returns to using liquid oxygen for disinfectant, chlorine out

In August, liquid oxygen was rerouted to local hospitals due to the coronavirus pandemic.

TAMPA, Fla — Editor's note: The video above is from August 2021.

The Tampa Water Department is no longer using chlorine as a disinfectant to treat the city's water as the department returns to its normal water disinfection process using liquid oxygen. 

Back in August, the department made the switch to chlorine when liquid oxygen was diverted to local hospitals due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Tampa Water Department says liquid oxygen creates ozone, a powerful disinfectant that's added to water to destroy bacteria, viruses and other organisms.

Water was safe to drink when the city was using chlorine, citing that it met all federal and state drinking water standards, however, the Tampa Water Department remained in close contact with their vendors and partners to ensure that liquid oxygen would make a comeback as soon as it was doable. 

"Helping to ensure public health by providing safe drinking water is our top priority," Water Department Director Chuck Weber said in a press release. "We were fortunate that we were able to quickly switch over to using chlorine as our primary way to disinfect the water. Not every water treatment plant affected by the shortage of liquid oxygen had that flexibility. The resumption of regular liquid oxygen deliveries, lets us return our normal operations."

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Multiple states were affected by the liquid oxygen supply shortage due to the pandemic. The Tampa Water Department is thankful that recent lower COVID-19 related hospitalizations has freed up the demand for liquid oxygen.

The Tampa Water Department produces an average of 82 million gallons per day of drinking water and the service area spans over 2,200 miles of pipes throughout the city of Tampa and parts of unincorporated Hillsborough County. 

RELATED: Liquid oxygen shortage changes Tampa Bay Water treatment process; people asked to conserve water