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In March, OWASA will use chlorine instead of chloramines to disinfect our drinking water.

Chloramines are a compound of chlorine and ammonia which OWASA has used since 2002 for disinfection in months other than March. Disinfection with chloramines has improved the overall quality of OWASA’s water and its taste and odor.

However, chlorine is a slightly stronger disinfectant. OWASA therefore uses chlorine for disinfection one month per year to ensure a high level of disinfection in the water system in accord with recommendations from the NC Department of Environmental Quality.

Several other utilities in our region, including the City of Durham and the Towns of Cary and Hillsborough, also treat drinking water with chlorine only for one month per year.

Water disinfected with chlorine is safe to drink. However, we recognize some customers may wish to remove or neutralize chlorine because of sensitivities or for taste preferences.

To remove or neutralize chlorine in water:

  • Add a few lemon slices to a pitcher of water. The lemon has ascorbic acid, which neutralizes chlorine.
  • Let water sit for a day or so. OWASA suggests keeping the water in an open container in a refrigerator.
  • Boil the water for one minute to evaporate the chlorine.
  • Filter the water with activated carbon. Water pitchers with activated carbon filters are sold locally.

After neutralizing chlorine, refrigerating the water is recommended to help prevent bacteria from growing in the water. OWASA does not recommend removing all traces of a disinfectant in drinking water.

Water may be discolored

To circulate water with chlorine throughout our pipe system, OWASA will release water from fire hydrants in some areas. This “flushing” may cause discoloration in drinking water. The discoloration can consist of iron and manganese particles which settle in water pipes over time or discoloration may be due to air bubbles. The discoloration does not mean the water is unsafe, but for aesthetic reasons OWASA recommends not cooking or washing clothes with discolored water.

If water is discolored, please run cold water through a spigot or faucet for 5 to 10 minutes. If this does not clear up the water, please call OWASA at 919-968-4421 (24 hour number).

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