The FGUA is devoted to educating others about our precious resources. Knowledgable citizens have a better understanding of the challenges that face their communities and a greater respect for their environment. Educators and children who have an interest in water, science, and the environment are in the right place.
The FGUA is committed to educating citizens and school aged children about the importance of water and utilities in their communities. By educating the general public about these important topics, the FGUA aims to foster an interest in the science and engineering that goes into providing water and wastewater services, while providing communities with the knowledge and resources that they need to make better decisions regarding their environmental impact. Take a look at our list of programs below to learn more.
Beginning in 2010, the FGUA has an AWWA recognized outreach program in collaboration with Pasco County Utilities for elementary school students. This program is open to Kindergarten through 5th grade students in Pasco County. In order to participate, elementary schools teachers must register.
Click Here to open the Watercontest.org website.
Throughout the state, the FGUA has representatives that are available to give presentations to school aged children or community groups. Topics included have ranged from wetland restoration, how water is used in manufacturing, to how wastewater is processed and the budgeting process. If you’re interested in a presentation, please contact us.
Welcome to the Drinking Water Tour of a FGUA Water System. Meet Drippy, our beloved water droplet. He is about to go on a journey from deep underground in the Floridian Aquifer, so that you can see how water makes its way through one of FGUA’s water systems. With your help, he’ll make it along the journey through the maze of pipes, wells, and other components in a water utility to your faucet.
Click on one of the pink circles below to follow Drippy and find out more.
Here you can find useful videos and other educational resources to assist with learning about water resources.
Follow Amie Ba (“Amoeba”), the micro organism as she teaches about reclaimed water. Download NOW!
See the ocean currents in motion with NASA’s “Perpetual Ocean” video
Learn where our water comes from. Courtesy of Southwest Florida Water Management District.
In order to get water to your home, it has to come from somewhere. In different parts of the world, drinking water can come from many places. Typically, drinking water comes from a river, lake, spring, or from deep underground. Sometimes, drinking water can come from the ocean. This type of water is salty and requires processing to be made into drinking water. For FGUA customers, the beginning of water’s journey to your home starts deep underground. After a heavy rain, water soaks into the ground and gets trapped under sand and rock. We call this trapped water: The Floridian Aquifer.
Here is where we meet our beloved hero, Drippy. Drippy is a water droplet on a mission to bring you clean drinking water. Watch as he makes his way through an amazing network of pipes and pumps. He’s making this long journey, so that you have water to drink that is fresh and clean!
Once a water source has been found, a hole is drilled deep into the ground. This hole runs from the top of the surface all the way to the aquifer. And, a pumping station is placed on top of the hole. This pumping station is often referred to as a “well.” Wells create suction, which pulls the water out of the ground. This suction is very similar to a person sipping a glass of milk through a straw. The water that is taken from the ground is referred to as “raw water.” This is because the water is not yet safe to drink.
At this point in our journey, Drippy has climbed out of a network of underground caves filled with raw water. On the surface, he reaches our pumping system which shoots him through a bunch of pipes and to his next stop! To see where Drippy will go next, click “Go to Odor Control” below.
Now that we’ve got the water out of the ground, it’s time to start making it look and smell like water. Remember, in order to get into the aquifer, Drippy had to travel all the way through the ground as a raindrop. Getting through all that sand and rock is a dirty job. It is a smelly one too.
As water makes its way into the Earth, it comes into contact with a stinky gas, called hydrogen sulfide. This makes the water smell like rotten eggs and is commonly called “black water.” Since nobody likes stinky water, the gas has to be removed. Once water is taken from a well, it travels to a treatment plant. This treatment plant contains big silos that separate the water and the gas. The gas is literally blown away from the water.
Now that Drippy smells good, it’s time to clean him up a little bit more. Click “Disinfection and Filtration” to see how he keeps clean!
Once raw water has had the rotten egg smell removed, there are still two more things that must happen before anyone can drink it. First, the dirt must be removed. In other words, Drippy needs a bath! Even though we’ve removed the smelly hydrogen sulfide gas, there’s still a lot of dirt and rocks that get sucked up from the pumps at the well site. Since nobody likes dirt in their water, the water must be cleaned. Water is cleaned by running it through a maze of filters. These filters remove the dirt and other particles in the raw water.
At this point, we have clear and good smelling water. But, there’s still one more thing that has to be done. Drippy is sick and he needs to get better. Otherwise, he can make you sick, if you drink him! Everywhere around us, even deep underground, there are germs and bacteria. These germs have to be killed before this water is sent to your home.
Germs are removed from the water by adding chemicals. The chemicals typically added are chlorine or chloramines. Chloramine is a chemical made of chlorine and ammonia. These chemicals are carefully added in just the right amount to make sure the germs are killed, but no one is harmed. In a way, it’s like giving Drippy some medicine, so he can come see you feeling better. Now that the water is safe to drink, we will look at where Drippy “hangs out” before going to your home.
Now that Drippy is feeling better, he needs a place to stay for awhile. After he leaves the filtration part of the water treatment plant, he goes to a big tank.
The storage tank is like a waiting room for our hero. Since everyone uses water differently, sometimes water is pumped out of the ground faster than it is used. When this happens, Drippy has to wait before he can come to your house. Otherwise, if he left too early, something bad might happen. Too much water would come through your tap and would make a big mess.
Now that Drippy is well-rested and clean from his trip to the water treatment plant, it’s time for him to get going on his journey to the pumps! Click “Go To Pump” to see where he goes next.
Now that Drippy is done with his stay at the water treatment plant, it’s time to get him moving again. In order to get to your house, he has to find a way to get there.
Lucky for him, the FGUA has a pumping station. From the pumping station, water is forced into a distribution network (a bunch of pipes). These pipes lead to every house that the utility services. For a service area like Seven Springs in Trinity, which has over 20,000 customers, that’s a lot of pumping!
At this stage in our journey, the pumping station is where water pressure is created. Some places in the world use the force of gravity and water towers to push water through pipes and to your home. However, the FGUA uses pumps because they’re more modern and take up less space.
The pumps in a utility system can run on gasoline or electricity. Modern pumping stations often have backup generators in case of power failure.
Once water leaves a pumping station, it is pushed through a maze of pipes underground. These pipes are hidden beneath our feet under roadways, sidewalks, and even in our own front yards!
The pipes come in all different kinds of sizes too. The larger pipes are usually 6 to 12 inches wide and are often referred to as “water mains.” The water mains connect to smaller pipes that are less than 1 inch wide. These pipes are called “service lines.” As the water gets closer and closer to your home, the pipes get smaller and smaller. This is because less and less water is used.
Once Drippy enters a service line, he has one last stop before he gets to your house. But you better hurry, those service lines are pretty tight spaces and you don’t want to leave Drippy in there for very long. It’s not comfortable. Click “Go to Meters” to find out about his last stop.
Did you know? Pipes in the ground are color-coded: blue, green, and purple. Blue pipes represent drinking water. Green pipes represent “raw water” and wastewater. And, purple pipes represent reclaimed water.
Now that Drippy is close to the end of the journey, we’ve got to keep track of him. The FGUA keeps track of Drippy by using a water meter.
A water meter measures how much water flows through the service line and into the home. As water is used in the home, new water passes through the meter and takes its place. The moving water turns a device inside the meter, which turns dials on the outside of the meter. The FGUA measures this flow of water in gallons.
Overall, the water meter is one of the smallest, but most important components of a water system because it determines how Drippy’s trip will be paid for. Several things must happen to get Drippy to the home. Buildings, pipes, chemicals, electricity, and people all have a part in making the trip for Drippy, a safe one. All of those things cost money. In order to make sure no one is charged unfairly, meters are used.
Every month, a person called a “meter reader” goes around to every house and checks the dials on the meter. Since the meter is like an odometer on a car, the dials keep a cumulative total (adding up over time) of the water used. To figure out how much was used for one month, the meter readers use subtraction to figure out how much was used from one month to the next. This difference is what customers pay.
Did you know? Contrary to popular belief, as meters age, they slow down rather than speed up. This slow down typically offers customers a savings on their bill because the meter shows less usage than what was actually used.
Drippy has finally made it! He’s in your home and ready for you to drink.
Now that he’s in your home, think of all of the things that you wouldn’t be able to do without him. Here are some things that you would not be able to do without Drippy making a trip to your home:
1. Drink clean water
2. Wash dishes and clothes
3. Flush toilets
4. Brush your teeth
5. Take a shower
Here are some things that you would have to do instead:
1. Buy bottled water
2. Buy paper plates
3. Find an outhouse
4. Go to the dentist more often
5. Wear lots of deodorant
What other things do you think you could and couldn’t do without clean, drinking water?
After thinking about it, feel free to check out the next page about other places where water comes from within a utility system.
Now that Drippy’s adventure has come to a close, let’s take a look at other sources of water.
As more and more people are born, water becomes a more and more precious resource. Everyone needs water to survive and as the population grows, there is a bigger need to protect this resource.
In order to protect this resource and still keep up with the demand for water, many utilities have resorted to building interconnections with other utilities. Simply put, an interconnection is a bunch of piping and some valves that connect what would normally be two separate utilities. In some instances, three or more utilities may have interconnections. An example of this is the FGUA’s Seven Springs system. This FGUA system has an interconnection with Pasco County Utilities, who in turn has interconnections with Tampa Bay Water.
In this scenario, the FGUA is a customer just like our customers. At times of high demand, the FGUA must purchase water from other utilities to protect the local water supply. All in all, these interconnections provide another vital source of water, while putting less stress on the local water supply. In closing, remember Drippy can come from many places, but it’s important to protect him, so that he’ll be around for years and years to come.
Did you know? The FGUA has interconnections with Lee County Utilities, City of Fort Myers, City of Tampa, and Pasco County Utilities.