How Is Water Treated?

It takes more than just turning on the tap. Water treatment is a very expensive and involved process. The Birmingham Water Works has four water treatment facilities – Carson, Putnam, Shades Mountain and Western Filter Plants. Combined, these filter plants deliver an average of 100 million-gallons of water a day to customers in five counties.

1. Intake - Water is taken from the source. Logs, fish and plants are screened out and water is drawn into the treatment plant.
2. Chemical Addition - Chemicals are added to kill germs and improve taste and odor.
3. Mixing - Water and chemicals are rapidly mixed.
4. Coagulation & Flocculation - The particles stick together and form larger particles called flocculants or “floc.”
5. Sedimentation - The water and floc particles flow into a sedimentation basin. The floc then settles to the bottom and is removed from the water.
6. Filtration - Water flows through filters. The filters are made of layers of sand and gravel.
7. Disinfection - A small amount of chlorine or other disinfecting chemical is added to kill any remaining germs and keeps the water safe as it travels to houses and businesses.
8. Storage - Water is placed in a closed tank or clearwell.
9. Distribution - Water is transported to houses and businesses. The Birmingham Water Works delivers on average 100 million gallons of water per day.