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In support of its commitment to provide high-quality drinking water, OWASA will temporarily alter its drinking water treatment process beginning at 12 a.m. Wednesday, March 1, 2023, and continuing through the month of March. Water will remain safe to drink during this time, but customers might notice a change in taste or odor of drinking water.

OWASA uses a combination of chlorine and ammonia, known as chloramines, to disinfect drinking water throughout the majority of the year. But, each March, OWASA only uses chlorine for the disinfection process. This change is only for the month of March and has no impact on the safety of the drinking water.

The change in treatment process is recommended by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and is standard practice among water providers, including neighboring utilities.

To ensure chlorine reaches all 400 miles of water pipes across Chapel Hill and Carrboro, OWASA will “flush” the system. This involves releasing water from fire hydrants in the service area. Flushing may cause some discoloration in water. If discoloration occurs, run the water for a few minutes until it becomes clear. If the discoloration does not clear after a few minutes, please call OWASA at 919-968-4421.

Throughout the change, water will remain safe to drink. Some customers, however, may wish to neutralize the chlorine taste. To do so, customers can consider storing water in an open container in the refrigerator; chlorine taste and odor will dissipate over time. Customers can also add a few lemon slices to the tap water; the lemon has ascorbic acid, which neutralizes chlorine. Some home filters also use activated carbon to reduce the taste and odor. Lastly, customers can also boil water for one minute and the chlorine will evaporate.

Dialysis patients and aquarium owners should continue to take special precautions to remove traces of ammonia and chlorine from the water prior to use. Learn more about the community’s water supply and treatment.

OWASA is Carrboro-Chapel Hill’s not-for-profit public service agency. Their diverse team works across the community to deliver high-quality water, reclaimed water, and wastewater services. They invest regularly to upgrade infrastructure and increase system resiliency. Together, with the community, OWASA conserves, protects, and sustains this vital resource.

For more information, contact OWASA Water Supply and Treatment Manager Monica Dodson via email or call 919-537-4205.

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