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Safety is our greatest priority. But in the winter, keeping planes and runways safe from snow and ice can put thousands of gallons of chemical de-icers into the environment. These chemicals can contaminate local streams, robbing them of essential oxygen. CVG has become an industry leader in safeguarding its streams.

The problem is difficult to address, since wind, rain and snowmelt can carry the chemicals over a large area. CVG has built a system to capture virtually every bit of rainwater and snowmelt in a 4.5 square mile area of the airfield. More than 400 million gallons of water are treated each year to remove trace amounts of chemicals.

The treatment process itself is remarkable, since it uses microorganisms to literally eat the de-icing chemicals that make their way into stormwater. We do this by pumping creek water into treatment basins (above). The treated water is then fed into reservoirs, where it is gradually released back into the creeks.

The treatment system operates year-round to protect streams from even trace amounts of chemicals. Tours are available for those who would like to learn more.

When planes are sprayed with de-icers (above), a drainage system also helps to keep chemicals out of the environment.

The organisms that eat the de-icing chemicals give the treated water a rusty-brown color (above). The organisms are seperated from the water before it is released into creeks.
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