Residents may notice a slight change in the taste of their water in the coming weeks.
The North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) will temporarily change the disinfectant in its water treatment process from March 1 through March 29, 2022. The annual routine change helps maintain the regional system and year-round water quality for more than 2 million residents.
NTMWD serves a 10-county region in North Texas in a 2,200-square-mile service area. It also provides more than 876 million gallons of treated water per day through more than 610 miles of transmission pipelines.
Disinfection is part of the water treatment process that keeps drinking water free of harmful microorganisms, such as parasites and viruses. Disinfection involves a two-step process that first treats the water at the treatment plant and then chloramine disinfectant (chlorine + ammonia) is added to maintain water quality.
During the temporary change, NTMWD suspends adding ammonia and uses free chlorine to keep water disinfected as it travels through pipes. The maintenance is done before the summer because hotter temperatures can increase the potential for bacterial growth in pipes.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, this temporary conversion is a common practice for many water providers using chloramines for disinfection.
Some residents may notice a more noticeable chlorine taste during the absence of ammonia over the course of the maintenance. They can mitigate the taste, odor or skin sensitivities by placing a pitcher of water in the refrigerator overnight or adding a slice of citrus to the water. Adding a crushed 1,000 mg Vitamin C tablet to bath water will neutralize the chlorine.
“Protection of public health and keeping our water safe is a top priority,” Zeke Campbell, NTMWD assistant director of water treatment and conveyance, said. “This common maintenance practice is an essential step in our advanced year-round treatment and disinfection process and does not increase the amount of chlorine in the system. The water remains safe to drink and use every day, and we continue to meet or surpass safe drinking water standards.”
NTMWD has conducted the temporary change in water disinfectant for over a decade, and continues to meet safe drinking water standards earning recognition from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) as a Superior Public Water System.
During the change, the cities and districts NTMWD serves may help move the chlorine-disinfected water through the system faster by flushing water from fire hydrants. The combination of converting to chlorine disinfectant and flushing the pipes helps maintain the system and safe water year round.
NTMWD conducts hundreds of tests daily in a state-certified laboratory to ensure water safety. Monthly and annual water quality reports are posted online at ntmwd.com/water-testing/, including results of tests conducted during the annual system maintenance.
The TCEQ also conducts routine sampling and testing in NTMWD and city distribution systems through an independent laboratory to confirm water quality compliance with state and federal standards.
NTMWD has posted online resources for residents at ntmwd.com/temporary-change-in-disinfectant/. It also recommends that customers review the water quality information posted on their city or utility websites.