City of Midland News Release

Posted on: May 19, 2017

Annual free chlorine maintenance on water distribution system scheduled for June

The City of Midland will perform routine maintenance on its water distribution system starting Thursday, June 1.

This preventative measure will ensure safe drinking water by temporarily changing the method used to disinfect the water supply. Hydrants around town will also be flushed throughout the month of June in order to maintain water clarity and quality in the distribution pipes.

Chloramine, a combination of chlorine and ammonia, is what is normally used to disinfect public water supplies in Midland and many other cities across the nation. During a period of approximately 30 days, the City will use only chlorine to disinfect the water supply and to better clean the City’s distribution lines.

Free chlorine is a stronger disinfectant than chloramine and denies bacteria the ability to form resistances to the usual disinfection treatment process. This may cause the water to have "chlorine odor," like water in a swimming pool, and slight discoloration. Some residents may detect no change at all.

Both forms of chlorinated water are safe for people and animals to drink, cooking and bathing, watering the garden, and all other common uses. Still, chlorine can be removed by boiling water, adding a bit of lemon juice, or using treatment devices to reduce chlorine levels.

The City has sent notice of this change to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), which suggests the free chlorine method for maintaining adequate chlorine residuals throughout the distribution system. The City’s utilities department encourages kidney dialysis patients to speak with their equipment supplier, and local hospitals have also been alerted of the change.

The Water Department will monitor chlorine levels and water-quality standards in the distribution system on a daily basis to ensure the safety of the water and that all state and regulatory standards are met.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is our water system making these changes to our disinfection process?

Our water system normally uses ammonia and chlorine as the primary means of disinfection. The combination of these two chemicals form chloramine, the most common form of disinfection used in the United States for water systems utilizing lakes and rivers as their source. Free chlorine is a stronger disinfectant than chloramine and denies bacteria the ability to form resistances to the usual disinfection treatment process.

For concerns about this process or water quality, please fill out a "Report a Drinking Water Quality Concern" form via the City’s online "Report a Concern" module.

When will this start and how long will it last?

The routine maintenance will start June 1 and last approximately 30 days.

What changes to the water quality will I notice during this period?

You may initially notice a chlorine taste and odor to your water, especially in showers and sinks, where water splashes. You could see a slight discoloration in the water if you’re in an area of the city with lower flows in the distribution pipes. These symptoms should lessen after the first couple of weeks of the change, but may still be somewhat present for the remainder of the maintenance period.

I have a fish tank. How will this affect my fish?

No change or adjustment should be needed, since any processes you have in place to remove chloramines, our normal disinfectant, should also remove free chlorine. We recommend you check with your equipment supplier if you have any concerns or questions.

I’ve heard this can affect kidney dialysis machines. Is this true?

We recommend you check with your equipment supplier as different equipment may have different needs or adjustments. The City of Midland is notifying local hospitals of the upcoming maintenance period.

How will the City monitor our water during this change?

City staff will monitor the free chlorine residuals at various locations throughout the distribution system each day to ensure they are at correct levels. You may also see more flushing of fire hydrants by City staff during this process. Certain water lines with low flow must be flushed more often to ensure the free chlorinated water is adequately moving through the system.

Is there a possibility of the free chlorine bleaching my clothes?

Free chlorine is a much stronger disinfectant than chloramine. So, even though it may have more of a chlorine odor, the disinfectant residuals in the system will actually be lower than they currently are. We don’t expect to see any problems with bleaching of clothes. However, if you have brand-new clothes that have never been washed, you might wash them first in cold water to let their colors "set" before using a hot water wash.

Is there a way to reduce or remove the chlorine taste and odor during this period?

 Yes. A carbon filter is effective at removing the taste and odor caused by free chlorine, as well as chloramines. If you have an existing carbon filter on your faucet, reverse-osmosis (RO) system or cartridge under the sink, these should remove any additional taste and odor during this period.


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Media Contact: Public Information Officer Sara Bustilloz

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