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In support of their commitment to provide high-quality drinking water, Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA) will temporarily alter its drinking water treatment process beginning at 12 a.m. on Friday, March 1, 2024, and continuing through the month of March. This process will not impact drinking water quality, and customers can continue using tap water as usual during this time. Customers may 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 and the water system throughout the majority of the year. But, each March, OWASA only use 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, call OWASA at 919-968-4421.

Some customers may wish to neutralize the chlorine taste during this time. To do so, customers can store water in an open container in the refrigerator, which allows chlorine taste and odor to dissipate over time. Customers may also add a few lemon slices to your tap water, allowing the lemon’s ascorbic acid to neutralize any chlorine taste. Some home filters also use activated carbon to reduce the taste and odor. Another option is to boil water for cooking or drinking for one minute, and the chlorine will evaporate.

Dialysis patients and aquarium owners should take special precautions to remove traces of ammonia and chlorine from the water prior to use. To learn more about the community’s water supply and treatment, visit the OWASA website.

OWASA is a not-for-profit public service agency serving Carrboro and Chapel Hill. 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, they conserve, protect, and sustain this vital resource.

If you have questions about the treatment change, contact OWASA Water Supply and Treatment Manager Monica Dodson at 919-537-4205 or email

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