Mayor Dyer hosted a press conference earlier this afternoon where he asked Orlando residents to conserve water due to a COVID-19-caused regional shortage of liquid oxygen, backing a claim by Orlando Utilities Commission that if we don’t start curbing our water use, we could be faced with some water quality challenges in the near future.
Florida hospitals are treating an ever-increasing number of COVID-19 patients and part of those treatments require higher and higher amounts of liquid oxygen. Health experts have found that high-flow nasal oxygen increases the survival rates of patients compared to mechanical ventilation, which would use five times less the amount of oxygen.
The supply of oxygen is starting to become strained across the state as the demands increase and an unintended consequence of those demands is a potential shortage for other vendors, including water treatment plants that use it to clean our water and to remove hydrogen sulfide, which naturally occurs in the water that is pumped out of the Lower Floridan Aquifer.
According to a report by Orlando Sentinel, a shortage of drivers licensed to transport liquid oxygen is exacerbating the issue, following a wave of retirements in the trucking industry during the pandemic.
As the mayor stated in his address, in an abundance of caution, the City of Orlando and OUC are asking residents and commercial property owners to limit their consumption of water immediately and are asking residents to continue to get vaccinated to ease the burden on local hospitals.
It’s estimated that roughly 40 percent of our treated potable water is used for irrigation purposes. If people hold back on projects like pressure washing and lawn maintenance, they could help impact the demands on our clean water and the oxygen needed to treat it.
The City of Orlando has already reduced water usage to an absolute minimum at all public parks and ballfields and has shut off water features at Loch Haven Park, Orwin Manor, Delaney Park, and Blue Jacket Park.
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