Public Release: 

EPRI Pilots New Water System For Healthier Habitats

Electric Power Research Institute

Palo Alto, Calif. -- November 1, 1996 -- Animals at the Central Park Wildlife Center in New York City will soon get a cleaner, healthier habitat with the introduction of a state-of-the-art electric-based water system, which uses ozone rather than chlorine to purify the Center1s aquatic exhibits.

In a pilot project sponsored by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the New York Power Authority (NYPA), and the Central Park Wildlife Center, the facility will set up and monitor an ozone system for the zoo1s polar bear, sea lion, penguin, and puffin exhibits.

"The ozone destroys organisms in the water such as parasites, viruses, and bacteria, and also eliminates organic materials and odors, leaving cleaner water for the animals and better visibility for the exhibits' visitors," said Rande Wilson, director of EPRI's Northeast Regional Community Environmental Center in Riverdale, NY. "Using ozone will also permit live fish to be added to the exhibits, allowing the animals to hunt their food as they do in the wild."

The Central Park Wildlife Center, with a collection of over 750 animals and an annual attendance of 750,000 visitors, currently has a very small ozone system in two of its exhibits. Through the pilot project, the Center will also evaluate other water treatments such as ultraviolet light, bio-filtration, advanced oxidation, and activated carbon and membrane systems.

Chlorine, the primary disinfectant used in most water treatment facilities, can cause environmental and health problems, causes wear and tear on treatment systems because of its corrosiveness, and can be difficult to handle properly.

"Aquatic birds, for example, cannot be put into exhibits that use chlorine because it destroys the natural oil coating that protects their feathers," said Bruce Foster, animal collections manager at the Central Park Wildlife Center. "There have also been studies that indicate that chlorine is not as effective as ozone in killing viral contaminants."

Each exhibit has its own treatment area where water is pumped into a recirculating system. An ozone generator pumps the compressed gas into the water where it destroys the parasites, viruses, and bacteria and oxidizes organic material. A filter is used to remove the remaining particulates and the purified water is then pumped back into the exhibit.

"We will also be studying the cost effectiveness of the ozone system," said Phil Pelligrino, senior vice president at New York Power Authority. "This electrotechnology can be used in many applications for our customers such as in commercial laundry systems, cooling towers, and water treatment plants, to replace existing chemical treatment systems."

EPRI, established in 1973 and headquartered in Palo Alto, California, manages science and technology R&D for the electricity industry. More than 700 utilities are members of the Institute, which has an annual budget of some $500 million.

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