Manatee County commissioners and staff took the first drink of water Wednesday treated by a new ultrafiltration membrane system at the Lake Manatee Water Treatment Plant.
The system doesn’t make the water smell or taste different, but the county said it is easier to provide residents with healthy water.
“It stops pathogens, which are disease carrying. They can’t get through the membrane,” Water Division Manager Kathryn Quilty said. “If someone drinks cryptosporidium or Giardia, they’re going to get sick. This is for health and safety.”
Cryptosporidium and Giardia are parasites that cause gastrointestinal illnesses.
The old filters were installed in the 1970s and 1980s and allowed for bigger particles to get through. It took nearly five years to retrofit the plant with the new filters, which have smaller pores to block additional particles.
The upgrade cost $53 million.
“This is a huge investment by Manatee County to make sure residents are going to have that clean, clear drinking water,” Commission Chair Mike Rahn said. “Right now, this will serve 320,000 residents, and we’re continuing to work on the water systems.”