San Angelo water system will temporarily change method of disinfecting drinking

Rather than the usual chloramine mix of ammonia and chlorine to disinfect water, the City will use “free chlorine” in June.

SAN ANGELO, Texas — The City of San Angelo’s Water Utilities Department said Monday it will temporarily change the way it disinfects the public water supply from June 1-30.

The Water Utilities Department normally uses chloramine, a mix of ammonia and chlorine, to disinfect water.

In June, the 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.

Residents may see more flushing of fire hydrants in June. Water lines with low flow must be flushed more often to keep free chlorinated water moving through the system.

Free chlorine is a stronger disinfectant than chloramine. Water users may note a slight change in the smell, taste and appearance of their water that should subside after a couple of weeks. This may include a chlorine odor and slight discoloration. The water is still safe for normal usage during this time.

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 said it 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. Fish tank operators should confirm that with their equipment supplier. Pet stores have also been told of the conversion.

The water department will monitor chlorine levels and water-quality standards in the distribution system daily to ensure all regulatory standards are met.

Frequently Asked Questions – Water system’s temporary conversion to free chlorine

The City of San Angelo Water Utilities Department will change the disinfectant used in the public water system from chloramine to free chlorine beginning June 1 for approximately four weeks.

  • Why is our water system making these changes to our disinfection process? Our water system normally uses ammonia and chlorine as the main means to disinfect water. Mixing these two chemicals forms chloramine, the most common disinfectant used in the United States for water systems that use lakes and rivers as their source. Occasionally, these systems must return to free chlorine as their disinfectant for a brief time to properly maintain the distribution system. Free chlorine works better than chloramine to control thin biofilms of organics and microbes that can build up in pipelines over time. This is common preventive maintenance used by most…

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