The City of Winnipeg announced the first of its new water treatment processes, ultraviolet light (UV) disinfection, is operating and protecting residents against waterborne parasites.UV disinfection was installed in the existing Deacon pumping station at a cost of $9 million. The city said this approach saved $34 million, when compared to the cost of building a “stand alone” UV disinfection facility.

“Ultraviolet light disinfection is the first process of a multi-barrier approach that will ensure Winnipeg residents continue to enjoy the safest drinking water possible for generations to come, “ said Barry MacBride, director of the city’s water and waste department in a press release.

“Before UV was in place, Winnipeg had no effective barrier against Cryptosporidium,” said Dr. Margaret Fast, a medical officer with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. “The presence of Cryptosporidium in the drinking water supply would have made it necessary for residents to boil their tap water or use an alternate source of water. While the risk of a waterborne disease outbreak due to Cryptosporidium is low, UV disinfection virtually eliminates this risk.”

In the UV process, water travels through chambers that contain ultraviolet lamps. With only seconds of exposure, the UV light rays penetrate micro-organisms and destroy their ability to reproduce. They are no longer able to cause infection and illness and are therefore harmless. UV light, at the doses used in Winnipeg’s facility, effectively protects us against parasites such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia.

UV disinfection is environmentally friendly, and does not change the taste, odour, or appearance of the water.

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A 12,000 square meter water treatment plant that will house the remaining treatment processes is being built at the Deacon site. The plant is expected to be finished in early 2009.

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