New York set to activate ultraviolet water purification plant

In roughly two months, assuming that everything goes to plan, the state of New York's Delaware-Catskills Ultraviolet Disinfection Facility (UDF) will begin processing the region's water supply. At full-scale capacity, the plant is expected to process up to nine billion liters of drinkable liquid a day, covering roughly 90 percent of the area's needs, including New York City, without as much energy consumption compared to existing technologies.

The facility, in the Mount Pleasant-Greenburgh region in Westchester County, New York, is approximately 16,000 square feet and cost $1.6 billion to design and construct. It features 56 ultraviolet (UV) emitters that bathe the water coming from the Catskills and Delaware County aquifers in radiation, killing any liquid-borne pathogens by altering their DNA irreparably. These bugs include giardia and cryptosporidium, which can cause gastro-intestinal diseases. The emitters are designed to process 151 million liters at a time.

According to industry source Scientific American, the driving force behind implementation of the UDF was a 2006 Environmental Protection Agency rule change that required municipalities to put in place more stringent filtration systems. The New York state government weighed several designs, including one that called for deeper and thicker porous sediment-based frameworks, before deciding on the UV radiation version.

The plant, built by Trojan Technologies, Inc., is expected to go online on October 29. When activated, it will become the largest facility of its kind. That title currently belongs to the Tesla Treatment Center in the San Francisco region, which treats roughly 12 billion liters of drinkable water per day. While the short-term results of utilizing the UDF and UV radiation may not be immediately apparent, it will certainly help mitigate the risk of disease that the Greater New York region faces from mistreated water supplies.

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