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Water Utilities to temporarily change disinfectant

Post Date:05/26/2017 11:16 AM

The Water Utilities Department will change how it disinfects the public water supply from June 1-30.

The Water Department normally uses chloramine, a mix of ammonia and chlorine, to disinfect water. In June, the Water Department will use only chlorine, also known as “free chlorine.” The yearly temporary conversion from chloramines to free chlorine – a common practice for municipal water systems – ensures water safety in pipelines by ridding mains of residual microscopic organic particles. That yields the highest quality of drinking water.

Citizens may see more flushing of fire hydrants during this process. Water lines with low flow must be flushed more often to keep free chlorinated water moving through the system. The Water Department does not like doing this during drought restrictions, but in some areas it will be required. 

Free chlorine is a stronger disinfectant than chloramine. Water users may note a slight change in the smell, taste and look of their water. This may include a “chlorine odor” and slight discoloration. Most symptoms should lessen after a couple of weeks; they do not affect the safety of the water.

The Water Utilities Department encourages kidney dialysis patients to talk with their equipment supplier; different equipment may have varying needs and require adjustments. The City has contacted local hospitals to alert them of the change.

Some reverse osmosis systems are not designed to work with water that has free chlorine. Owners of RO systems should check their operation manuals or system manufacturers to ensure they will not be adversely affected by the change.

The process most fish tanks have for removing chloramines from water should do the same with free chlorine and need no adjustments. Even so, fish tank operators should confirm that with their equipment supplier. Local pet stores have also been told of the conversion.

The Water Department will monitor chlorine levels and water-quality standards in the distribution system on a daily basis to ensure the water’s safety and that all regulatory standards are met.

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