August is National Water Quality month! With millions of gallons of water filling Georgia Aquarium’s many animal habitats, it is vital that our teams ensure that the water coming in is clean and ready to be put into our galleries. This August, learn about all the hard work that goes into monitoring and testing our water and what you can do to help keep water clean and free of pollution.

Where does Georgia Aquarium’s water come from?

Have you ever wondered where all of Georgia Aquarium’s water comes from? Atlanta is a landlocked city, hundreds of miles from the ocean. Georgia Aquarium uses over 10 million gallons of water from the city of Atlanta to fill more than 100 animal habitats. This water must be closely monitored and filtered at all times.

Who helps filter the water and monitor its quality?

Our Life Support System (LSS) team plays an extremely important role in maintaining the quality of the water in our galleries. LSS tests water quality and maintains the pumps, pipes and filtration systems. Each week, LSS performs 5,000 tests on approximately 100 habitats to monitor water quality, testing the water of each exhibit in the water quality lab twice a day. They test factors such as pH, alkalinity and nutrient levels. In the event of a power outage, LSS can continue to operate the filtration systems on emergency power for up to 1-3 weeks.

What does Georgia Aquarium do to prepare the water for the galleries?

Since the Aquarium’s water comes from the city of Atlanta rather than the ocean, salt must be added to it before it is put into any of our saltwater galleries. Before salt is added, the water is de-chlorinated and tested for any possible contaminants. It is then mixed with Instant Ocean, a synthetic sea salt that makes the water suitable for any saltwater habitat. LSS can create saltwater, freshwater and brackish water, which is a mix of fresh and salt water, from the city of Atlanta’s water.

How is water cycled through Georgia Aquarium’s galleries?

The water at Georgia Aquarium operates on a closed loop system, meaning that the water in each habitat is filtered, treated, and then returned to the same habitat where it was previously. No two habitats at the Aquarium are connected in this system. The closed loop system enables us to recycle over 99.5 percent of exhibit water, which saves more than 50 million gallons of water per year! This water flows through over 70 miles of pipes at Georgia Aquarium.

How can I learn more about water quality at Georgia Aquarium?

There are plenty of ways to learn more about Life Support Systems and Water Quality at Georgia Aquarium! When you visit the Aquarium, you can purchase a Behind the Seas tour to see some of our pump and filtration systems and learn how they keep our animals healthy. To help our LSS and water quality teams, you can apply to become a volunteer. Additionally, we offer water quality and Life Support Systems internships, in which interns learn about the importance of water quality for our animals and assist with the monitoring of water filtration systems.

During Water Quality Month, do your part to keep our waters clean and pollution-free! You can help out by using non-toxic household cleaning products and making sure not to dump any household chemicals or medications in the toilet or sink.

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