May 3-9 Drinking Water Week
Updated: May 7
Decatur Utilities is observing Drinking Water Week, May 3-9, and emphasizing the vital role that safe, clean drinking makes in our daily lives!
When you come to work for a public utility like DU, you answer a call to serve the public. Accolades aren't necessary - but they are certainly appreciated! The workers at DU's Water Treatment Plant are consistently recognized as running one of the Best Operated Plants in the state by the Alabama Water Pollution Control Association. In fact, they won that award for Surface Water Plants > 60 Million Gallons Per Day in 2018 and 2019. In addition, the plant received the Six-Year Area-Wide Optimization Award presented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) for 2013-2018.
These awards recognize the outstanding operational practices that in place to ensure that DU meets or exceeds all state and federal regulations for water quality. Today's Water Week shout out goes to the men and women who keep our plant producing safe drinking water 24/7/365!
When we use the word "outage", the first thing that comes to mind is the power going out. However, "water outages" can occur when water mains break due to the ground shifting, dig ins, etc. Today's Drinking Water Week shout out goes to DU employees from the Gas/Water/Wastewater Group that keep our 500-mile network of underground water mains maintained and repaired so the water keeps flowing!
So, what does it take to make sure your water supply is readily available when you need it, and safe to consume and use? It's actually a pretty involved process, beginning at the Tennessee River! DU's raw water supply comes from the Wheeler Basin Reservoir, upstream from the Hudson Memorial Bridge. Incoming water is screened to remove debris and trash, then it goes through a multi-stage treatment process to ensure that the "final product" meets or exceeds all regulations established by EPA and ADEM for water quality and purity.
More than a million tests a year are performed in our in-house laboratory and by independent, third-party laboratories. It takes about 24 hours for each gallon of water to move through the plant - and we treat about 27 million gallons per day on average! Water is then distributed to customers throughout Decatur via a 500-mile network of underground pipes and booster stations. Huge pumps at the plant provide the pressure needed to keep it flowing and water tanks keep about 24 million gallons of water in backup storage at all times. So turn on the tap, raise a glass and help us celebrate National Drinking Water Week, May 3-9!
This year's theme is "There When You Need It." Truly, the men and women of DU's Water Resources and Gas/Water/Wastewater Operations work work 24/7/365 to ensure that Decatur's residents are receiving ample supply of safe, clean drinking water that meets or surpasses all state and federal mandates for quality.
“With so much changing around us nowadays, it is comforting to know that our tap water is readily available for hygienic and drinking purposes,” said American Water Works Association CEO David LaFrance. “Even during the coronavirus pandemic, water professionals across North America continue to report to work to collect, treat and distribute water to ensure the health and safety of their communities.”
Decatur Utilities General Manager Ray Hardin echoed that sentiment. "We are dedicated to making sure Decatur's drinking water supply is plentiful and safe," he said. "I appreciate all of our employees who work so hard every day to deliver on that promise."
To commemorate the week, water utilities, water organizations, government entities, environmental advocates, schools and other stakeholders throughout North America and beyond will encourage consumers to understand and appreciate their drinking water.