Water utilities with chloramine disinfection use free-chlorine burns and system flushes to provide routine maintenance. Free-chlorine burns also reduce the potential for coliform or other types of bacteria in the system. During the free-chlorine burn, the water disinfection process will be changed from chloramines to free chlorine, which is a stronger and faster-acting disinfectant.
Fire hydrants will be open periodically to flush the distribution system, helping to remove sediment from pipes and distribute chlorine. After the free-chlorine burn, standard disinfection chemicals will be reintroduced to the system.
• Possible Noticeable Effects: During this temporary change, customers may see discoloration or cloudiness in the water and a chlorine odor or taste. If so, run the water for several minutes until it clears. Minor pressure fluctuations and small air pockets may also occur. Fire hydrant flushing should remove the majority of the discoloration and odor, but some may reach customer lines. Check for discolored water before adding clothes to your washing machine. If discolored water appears, drain the water and refill the washer with clear water. Customers can purchase and use a cleaning additive to help prevent or remove discoloration.
• Is the water safe to drink? Yes, water is safe to drink during the free-chlorine burn, and boiling is not necessary. Customers may notice a change to the taste and smell. If so, run the water for several minutes until it clears. Customers using tap water for kidney dialysis should properly monitor for complete neutralization of disinfectant residual and should contact their doctor for more information. Customers using water for aquariums should monitor the chlorine residuals.
• Why is the free-chlorine burn necessary? The City of Augusta routinely collects samples and monitors water quality. Over time, minerals and metals naturally present in water sources can increase and attach to pipes then release with changes in pressure, resulting in discoloration, odor, or affected taste. Other processes, such as nitrification and the growth of biofilm, can also occur in water distribution pipes. The biofilm growth can cause a reduction in the effectiveness of residual disinfectants over time. The free-chlorine burn will help cleanse the lines, and reduce the occurrence of nitrification and biofilm.
Customers with questions can call the Water Treatment Plant at 316-775-4549.