News Release

Health Department Green Lights Water Plant UV Test

water plant


October 28, 2013


(West Palm Beach, FL) – The Palm Beach County Health Department has given permission for the City of West Palm Beach to test an additional layer of water protection technology for treating drinking water.

As an extra layer or protection to the current process, the city will start a 60 to 90 day pilot program of ultraviolet (UV) light treatment for drinking water.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, “the UV light is absorbed by the genetic material of microorganisms, damaging it, and preventing the microorganisms from reproducing. The UV disinfection has been found to be particularly effective against protozoa and bacteria.”


Several cities across the United States have selected UV technology including Cincinnati Los Angeles and New York City which opened its $1.5 billion dollar UV facility earlier this month.  These systems, like the City of West Palm Beach, draw their drinking water from above ground sources.

Five years ago, a consent order between the Palm Beach County Health Department and the City required the City to start looking at adding an additional layer of protection.

The system that the city had previously been considering would have cost approximately $90 million dollars to implement. But the newer UV system, which has the ability to treat the same amount of water, is projected to cost less than one-third of the original price tag.

“Your willingness to allow the City to utilize an equivalent technology will benefit ratepayers financially while maintaining a high standard of public health protection,” the City wrote in an October 23rd letter to the Palm Beach County Health Department. “Thank you for your consideration of this alternative.”

The new UV technology for drinking water is different than the UV technology that was installed over a decade ago in the city’s sewage treatment plant.

“We are light years ahead of the technology used ten years ago,” said Scott Kelly, the new Assistant City Administrator who oversees utilities. “Cities across the country are finding UV treatment to be one of the most cost effective methods out there, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calls UV one of the most effective purification methods for water treatment.”

At the end of the pilot period, the health department will take a look at the results to determine whether the city can permanently implement a UV technology system.

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