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The Trouble with Open Reservoirs

The trouble with open reservoirs

The Levine Reservoir is an open finished water reservoir, meaning the water is stored there after it’s been purified, but before being delivered to you.

In 1975, there were more than 750 open reservoirs in service across the country. But nearly all reservoirs have been removed from service because they present risks to public health and safety. Today, the Levine Reservoir is one of just 9 open reservoirs still in service in the US.

Perception versus reality

Most people think their drinking water is purified then stored securely until it’s delivered to them,

Drinking water reservoir graph

becomes a collection place for leaves, twigs, grass clippings, plastic bags and other debris.

The expense of retreatment

Because treated drinking water becomes contaminated when its stored in open reservoirs, its necessary to treat the water again to reduce the health and safety risks to consumers. Unfortunately, it is prohibitively expensive to fully purify the water again.
Moreover, there isn’t enough land to allow construction of full treatment facilities at Levine Reservoir. As an alternative, chlorine is added to as the water as it leaves the reservoir on its way to be delivered to consumers.
The chlorine “shock” treatment serves to reduce some, but not all, of the contamination. As a result, some bacteria, such as E. coli can end up in drinking water delivered to consumers.

Reservoir infographic

but that’s not the case when treated water is stored in the Levine Reservoir. As the illustration above shows, treated drinking water is stored in the open in the Levine Reservoir after its been purified, but before it’s delivered to consumers. This allows the drinking water to become contaminated after it’s been purified, but before its delivered to you.

Open reservoirs are attractive to wildlife as a place to rest, swim, feed

Open reservoirs are attractive to wildlife as a place to rest, swim, feed and more. When treated drinking water is stored in open reservoirs, it becomes a bathroom for ducks, geese, deer and more.

Water in open reservoirs can also become contaminated from environmental pollution. During weather events, open reservoirs capture rain water and water run-off, both of which contain contaminants and end up polluting the treated drinking water. Plus, the treated drinking water in the reservoir

E coli levels graph

Above: E. coli bacteria levels in drinking water before and after treatment and when stored in the open reservoir.

Below: Ducks swimming in treated drinking water at Levine Reservoir.

ducks swimming at Levine Reservoir

The trouble with open reservoirs

The Levine Reservoir is an open finished water reservoir, meaning the water is stored there after it’s been purified, but before being delivered to you.

In 1975, there were more than 750 open reservoirs in service across the country. But nearly all reservoirs have been removed from service because they present risks to public health and safety. Today, the Levine Reservoir is one of just 9 open reservoirs still in service in the US.

Perception versus reality

Most people think their drinking water is purified then stored securely until it’s delivered to them,

Reservoir infographic

but that’s not the case when treated water is stored in the Levine Reservoir. As the illustration above shows, treated drinking water is stored in the open in the Levine Reservoir after its been purified, but before it’s delivered to consumers. This allows the drinking water to become contaminated after it’s been purified, but before its delivered to you.

Drinking water reservoir graph

Open reservoirs are attractive to wildlife as a place to rest, swim, feed and more. When treated drinking water is stored in open reservoirs, it becomes a bathroom for ducks, geese, deer and more.

Water in open reservoirs can also become contaminated from environmental pollution. During weather events, open reservoirs capture rain water and water run-off, both of which contain contaminants and end up polluting the treated drinking water. Plus, the treated drinking water in the reservoir becomes a collection place for leaves, twigs, grass clippings, plastic bags and other debris.

The expense of retreatment

Because treated drinking water becomes contaminated when its stored in open reservoirs, its necessary to treat the water again to reduce the health and safety risks to consumers. Unfortunately, it is prohibitively expensive to fully purify the water again.
Moreover, there isn’t enough land to allow construction of full treatment facilities at Levine Reservoir. As an alternative, chlorine is added to as the water as it leaves the reservoir on its way to be delivered to consumers.
The chlorine “shock” treatment serves to reduce some, but not all, of the contamination. As a result, some bacteria, such as E. coli can end up in drinking water delivered to consumers.

E coli levels graph

Above: E. coli bacteria levels in drinking water before and after treatment and when stored in the open reservoir.

Below: Ducks swimming in treated drinking water at Levine Reservoir.

ducks swimming at Levine Reservoir
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