Water is essential to life, but whilst it starts its cycle in pure form, as rain falling from the heavens, it quickly picks up impurities from the environment.
This water (often referred to as raw water) requires treatment to become potable. Belize Water Services (BWS) extracts water from wells, rivers and from the sea.
Water from wells for the most part is pure and usually requires only simple treatment.
Water from the sea requires salt removal. This is achieved through a high pressure membrane filtration process called reverse osmosis.
In the case of surface water (rivers, lakes, etc) BWS employs a much more complex treatment process. A typical surface water treatment process is outlined below.
Typical Water treatment Process.
The following is a typical method used for treating surface water
- “Raw” water is diverted from the Belize River at the intake facility and then pumped to the treatment area. At this stage water is screened to remove sticks, trash or other large pieces of debris.
- Flocculation and Coagulation – Alum and other chemicals are added to the raw water to form tiny sticky particles. These particles attract suspended solids in the raw water and form floc. The water is stirred slowly with paddles to mix the alum with the raw water.
- Sedimentation: The water is allowed to settle. The heavy particles (floc) settle to the bottom and clear water is taken off the top and carried to the filters.
- Filtration: Clear water passes through filters that remove even smaller particles. Filters consist of gravel, sand, and anthracite. Each layer filters out smaller and smaller particles. The anthracite acts not only as a filter but also neutralizes taste and odor.
- Disinfection: After filtration, a small amount of chlorine is added to the filtered water to kill any bacteria or microorganisms that may be in the water.
- Storage: Water is placed in a storage tank (clear well) where the disinfection is completed. Water is then is pumped through large pipes to reservoirs in Belize City for storage and distribution.
- Distribution – Storage reservoirs in Belize City facilitate storage and distribution. Water is pumped from the reservoirs to homes and businesses in the community.