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JEA Doesn’t Expect COVID-Induced Liquid Oxygen Shortage To Impact Water Supply

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As some utility companies ask residents to conserve water because liquid oxygen is being diverted to local hospitals, JEA says it’s not at risk of running out. 

Liquid oxygen is used in some water districts to remove bad smells or purify water, but it’s also needed in hospitals to treat a surge of patients with COVID-19. 

Last week, Orlando became the first city to ask residents to conserve, saying if residents didn’t stop washing their cars and watering their lawns temporarily to reduce water, the city could need to institute boil-water advisories. Hillsborough County Wednesday told residents the taste and smell of the tap water might change as treatment methods changed to accomodate the shortage of liquid oxygen. 

Here in Northeast Florida, JEA spokeswoman Karen McAllister said Jacksonville’s utility also relies on liquid oxygen, but they’re not at risk of running out. 

“JEA uses liquid oxygen at our Main Street water treatment plant and our Greenland water treatment to generate ozone for water treatment,” McAllister said. “Currently, we do not have any delivery issues.” 

Liquid oxygen is used at the Main Street plant to correct the water’s odor, a non-essential cosmetic fix. At the Greenland plant, it’s used to disinfect the water. “We can switch over to sodium hypochlorite for disinfection if needed,” McAllister said.

Contact Sydney Boles at sboles@wjct.org, or on Twitter at @sydneyboles.