Many Tampa residents received a notice in the mail a few days ago alerting them that the city is temporarily changing their disinfecting agent from chloramines to chlorine. The notice, which you can read in full below, claims that this procedure is merely routine maintenance and that the water will still be safe to drink.
Citizens who aren’t familiar with water treatment methods may read the notice and immediately discard it during the rush of another busy day. But this announcement, coming on the heels of growing water quality issues in the Tampa area, deserves a closer look.
First, it’s important to note that this is far from the first time that Tampa has employed this switch to treat its water supply. In fact, in June and October of 2017 Tampa officials decided to also switch from chloramines to chlorine disinfection for a number of weeks. Why the change, and why this often?
According to the City of Tampa’s press release regarding the switch to chlorine in June of 2017, the water was converted to chlorine disinfection to “optimize water quality without the loss of millions of gallons of drinking water via system flushing.” When you strip this announcement of the expected PR language, you learn that the water quality in Tampa has somehow worsened or become questionable.
When cities use chloramines to treat the water supply, often ammonia levels will increase within the water supply due to nitrification. These elevated levels of ammonia may be nearing the EPA’s limits, so the city then switches to chlorine treatment to stem the nitrification. This results in extremely high levels of chlorine that can affect your water’s odor and taste, and leave your hair and skin dry in the shower.
Instead of using new water, the city instead injects it with a stronger disinfectant (chlorine) in an attempt to make the water safe to drink without spending more on additional treatment. This measure makes sense in context – Tampa is historically very low on water, and already exists in a water caution area. With such a precariously low water supply the city would resort to additional treatment methods instead of further depleting the water supply.
This switch in treatment is not something homeowners in Tampa and the surrounding area should take lightly. This is the third time this treatment method was necessary in one year – maybe it’s time to for our Certified Whole House Water Filter for effective chlorine reduction at a rate of 97%. This carbon-based filtration system will deliver great-tasting water that is completely safe to drink.