We have recently received complaints regarding the taste and odor of our water. At this time, Osceola Water Works is going through some changes to the disinfectant in use. Normally, our water system uses something called chloramines for disinfecting the drinking water. Periodically, we switch to free chlorine (or breakpoint chlorination), which is a stronger disinfectant. Free chlorine is used while the water system prepares to flush the distribution system. Due to the weather, we have not been able to flush the system. Flushing the water mains improves water quality by removing sediment that slowly builds up in the water main over time. Osceola uses enough chlorine in the treatment process to keep the water safe for consumption. Right now, customers can easily get rid of the chlorine taste and smell by filling an open container with water and keeping it in the fridge for drinking – much of the chlorine will leave the water overnight.
The switch between disinfectants was made in early January and will likely continue until March when the system can be thoroughly flushed. Some customers are more sensitive to chlorine taste and odor and it can also vary depending on where a resident is in the distribution system. Attached below is a link for a video that helps explain the two different types of chlorine. If you have further questions or concerns, please call Osceola Water Works at 641-342-1435. We appreciate your patience while we work through this needed process.
Below are some frequently asked questions regarding Chloramines and Free Chlorine.
Why would Osceola Water Works temporarily change from Chloramines to Free Chlorine?
This temporary change in disinfectant is a standard water treatment practice to keep water mains clean and free from potentially harmful bacteria throughout the year.
The temporary use of free chlorine will ensure that a high level of disinfection is maintained throughout the network of water mains and pipes that deliver you drinking water. This temporary change in water treatment process helps ensure that bacteria does not form resistance to the usual disinfection treatment process.
Switching to free chlorine is a proactive step to ensure that we maintain optimal levels of disinfection in the water distribution system.
As always, the drinking water will be regularly monitored to ensure that the water delivered meets or is better than, federal Safe Drinking Water Act standards.
What is Free Chlorine?
Free chlorine is a slightly stronger disinfectant than chloramines, and is commonly used by drinking water utilities. For utilities that normally use chloramines, free chlorine is used periodically to ensure resistant bacteria and viruses do not grow in the water distribution system.
What is Chloramine?
Chloramine is a disinfectant used in drinking water to kill bacteria and viruses. It is made up of chlorine and ammonia. Chloramines is the primary disinfectant used by Osceola Water Works.
Why does Osceola Water Works use Chloramines most of the year?
While chlorine is an effective disinfectant, using chlorine alone creates byproducts, which are regulated by the US Environmental Protection Agency. We can reduce byproduct levels through the use of chloramines.
Chloramine is a better long-term choice because it produces lower levels of disinfectant by-products like trihalomethanes, improves the smell and odor of water (compared to chlorine), and lasts longer in the distribution system to prevent bacterial growth.
Will I notice a difference in my water?
Some customers may notice a slight change in the taste or smell of their tap water. Free chorine may have a bit of a chemical odor or smell slightly like water in a swimming pool. Each individual customer has his or her own sensitivity level to the taste and/or odor of free chlorine. Many detect no change at all. The mild chlorine taste and smell is normal and poses no health risk.
When will Osceola Water Works go back to using Chloramines?
Osceola Water will be continuing on free chlorine until mid-March at the conclusion of flushing the distribution system.
Like chloramines, free chlorine is toxic to fish. Fish owners need to remove chlorine, ammonia and chloramines from the water before use with fish. Local pet stores carry water conditioners that remove chloramines and free chlorine. If customers have questions, we recommend contacting their pet store for information and detailed instructions.