2015 OCWA Drinking Water Week Fact Sheet

The water you drink may come from one of three sources located in Central New York: Otisco Lake, Lake Ontario or Skaneateles Lake.

Otisco Lake: The Onondaga County Water Authority (OCWA) has intake pipes located in Otisco Lake. The water from Otisco Lake travels, by gravity, approximately five miles to OCWA’s Water Treatment Plant located in Marcellus, New York. In the water plant, chemicals are added and the water is filtered. After the water is filtered, it is stored in large tanks connected to large transmission mains that allows the water to flow into various towns and villages in Onondaga County and in turn to individual homes and businesses.

Lake Ontario: OCWA also distributes water purchased from the Metropolitan Water Board which treats and filters water drawn from Lake Ontario. The treated water is pumped from a water treatment plant in the Town of Oswego to large storage tanks in the Town of Clay. The water from Clay is pumped into large transmission mains and eventually into local distribution mains that provide service to residents and businesses in Onondaga, Oswego, Madison and Oneida Counties.

Skaneateles Lake: The City of Syracuse disinfects its water, but due to good water quality does not need to filter the water that enters their intakes located in Skaneateles Lake. OCWA buys some water from the City of Syracuse to serve residents and businesses in southern Onondaga County, but the bulk of the water is used by City residents.

Basic Water Facts:

Water is unique in that it is the only natural substance that is found in all three physical states – liquid, solid, and gas – at the temperatures normally found on Earth.

Water freezes at 32° Fahrenheit (F) and boils at 212°F (at sea level, but 186.4° at 14,000 feet). Water is unusual in that the solid form, ice, is less dense than the liquid form, which is why ice floats.

Water is called the “universal solvent” because it dissolves more substances than any other liquid. This means that wherever water goes, either through the ground or through our bodies, it takes along valuable chemicals, minerals, and nutrients.

Pure water has a neutral pH of 7, which is neither acidic (<7) nor basic (>7).

The water molecule is highly cohesive – in other words, it is very sticky. Water is the most cohesive among the non-metallic liquids.
Pure water, which you won’t ever find in the natural environment, does not conduct electricity. Water becomes a conductor once it starts dissolving substances around it.

Water has a high specific heat index – it absorbs a lot of heat before it begins to get hot. This is why water is valuable to industries and in your car’s radiator as a coolant. The high specific heat index of water also helps regulate the rate at which air changes temperature, which is why the temperature change between seasons is gradual rather than sudden, especially near the oceans.

Water has a very high surface tension. In other words, water is sticky and elastic, and tends to clump together in drops rather than spread out in a thin film, like rubbing alcohol. Surface tension is responsible for capillary action, which allows water (and its dissolved substances) to move through the roots of plants and through the tiny blood vessels in our bodies.

The density of water means that sound moves through it long distances. In sea water at 30°C, sound has a velocity of 1,545 meters per second (about 3,500 miles per hour).

Air pressure affects the boiling point of water, which is why it takes longer to boil and egg at Denver, Colorado than at the beach. The higher the altitude, the lower the air pressure, the lower the boiling point of water, and thus, the longer time to hard-boil an egg. At sea level water boils at 212°F (100°C), while at 5,000 feet, water boils at 202.9°F (94.9 °C).

Some of water’s physical properties:
• Weight: 62.416 pounds/cubic foot at 32°F; 1,000 kilograms/cubic meter
• Weight: 61.998 pounds/cubic foot at 100°F; 993 kilograms/cubic meter
• Weight: 8.33 pounds/gallon; 1 kilogram/liter
• Density: 1 gram/cubic centimeter (cc) at 39.2°F, 0.95865 gram/cc at 212°F

Some water volume comparisons:
• 1 gallon = 4 quarts = 8 pints = 128 fluid ounces = 3.7854 liters
• 1 liter = 0.2642 gallons = 1.0568 quart
• 1 million gallons = 3.069 acre-feet = 133,685.64 cubic feet. An acre foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre of land with water one foot deep.

Flow rates:
• 1 cubic foot/second (cfs) = 449 gallons/minute = 0.646 million gallons/day = 1.98 acre-feet/day