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Posted on: August 30, 2023

Free Chlorine Water Conversion Update

free chlorine conversion

We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding with the water concerns and want to reiterate the health and safety of our community is our #1 priority. Going forward, we’ll be providing regular updates as we look to provide more clarity into why we’re doing this and what to expect throughout the process.
8/31 Update:

We’re approximately a week into the 3-week free chlorine conversion process. The earthy/musty smell and taste that occurred at the beginning is an expected result of the free chlorine mixing with the existing chloroforms in the water. By now, the free chlorine has worked its way through most of the City, and if you’re tasting/smelling something other than chlorine in your water, report it to 311 or on the 311 app, and crews will come out to flush. While it may look or smell different, it is completely safe.

• Major Leak Repairs Reported: 3 | Major Repairs Fixed: 3

• Minor Leak Repairs Reported: 12 | Minor Repairs Fixed: 2

• Taste/Odor Calls: 59 (Note: A Chlorine smell/taste is normal right now)

• Discolored Water Calls: 10

Minor leaks are service lines and taps not affecting customer pressure, major leaks are larger lines affecting system pressure and addressed as emergency repairs.
Going forward, you'll be able to check our progress at >> https://www.beaumonttexas.gov/552/Water-Updates

What is Happening?

The City of Beaumont public water system is temporarily converting the disinfectant used in the distribution system from chloramine to free chlorine. The conversion began on August 22, 2023 and continue through approximately September 12, 2023. During this period, you may experience taste and odor changes associated with this type of temporary disinfectant conversion.

Why Are We Doing This?

Per the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), our governing body, disinfection is a critical step in treating and maintaining safe drinking water. In Texas, public water systems (PWSs) are required to maintain a disinfectant residual throughout the entire distribution system so that every customer receives safe water. 
All water systems must maintain residuals of either:
• free chlorine
• chloramines—specifically monochloramine.
In areas with warm climates, bacteria grow more quickly and disinfectants, like chloramine, degrade more quickly. This can lead to nitrification events within distribution system piping. PWSs that use chloramine usually perform periodic, temporary conversions to free chlorine as either a maintenance measure or as a response to nitrification. 
The City of Beaumont has chosen to implement a temporary disinfectant conversion to free chlorine because of rising nitrification levels in the water system. These issues were compounded by issues brought on by the excessive heat or drought.

What to Expect (Approximate Dates)

August 22 - August 29 - As we introduce free chlorine to the system and it mixes with the existing chloramines, you may experience water that tastes or smells musty or earthy. 
August 30- September 12 - You may notice a slight chlorine smell and taste as the free chlorine works its way through the entire Beaumont water system. 
September 12-20 - You may notice the musty/earthy smell or taste again as the free chlorines work their way out of the system.
These are all safe and expected effects. If you notice the musty/earthy odor or smells or something different than chlorine, please report it to 311 and crews can come out and flush. 

FAQ

 Is the water safe for drinking and bathing?
 YES. The City is doing this to ensure the water continues to be safe for drinking, bathing and other normal uses.
Are we under a boil water notice?
NO. The water during this entire process is perfectly safe. We’re doing this to avoid a boil water notice.
If restaurants are serving bottled water, how can we be sure it’s safe to drink from the tap?
It is their choice to provide bottled water to patrons. If it’s being done, it’s a taste preference, not a safety requirement.
How can I be sure my water tastes/looks how it’s supposed to? 
Check our chart – at the beginning and end of the process, it’s expected to experience a musty/earthy taste or smell – this will occur for 3-4 days around August 22 and September 12. As the chlorine makes its way through the system, a chlorine smell or taste is normal. You can expect this to last from approximately August 29-September 11. If you notice the musty/earthy odor or smells or something different than chlorine, please report it to 311 and crews can come out and flush. 
What can / should I do if I still have concerns or my water tastes or looks different?

Should you experience any taste, odor, or discoloration in your water, please report it to 311. We are actively working to fix every current issue reported to us and are taking steps to prevent future issues. Calls to 311 for Taste/Odor and Discoloration have dropped significantly. Reporting done through the app will also allow you to see if a report has already been filed.  Please note that smelling or tasting higher levels of chlorine is normal during the Free Chlorine Conversion process. This will not go away until we are back on chloramines.

What is so bad about nitrification?
Nitrification causes the total loss of chlorine and monochloramine residual. Low or no disinfectant residual may allow the growth and persistence of bacteria, which can lead to many more issues, including potential illness. 
Why are we doing this?
A temporary conversion to free chlorine is the only way to “starve” ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB). Otherwise, bacterial colonies continue to grow because they continue to have access to “food” in the form of ammonia. Free available ammonia is not present in the water if there is a free chlorine residual. This is a well-documented and common procedure for cities.
What do I do if my water tastes/smells bad?
Run your cold water for 2-3 minutes. If the taste/smell issue does not clear up then call 311 and crews will come out and flush the closest fire hydrant to your address.
Why are we flushing so much when we’re under drought conditions? 
Flushing is an expected and necessary part of this process to help the free chlorine make its way through the system. We are very conscientious of the drought and are only opening required hydrants as long as necessary. We appreciate your help and understanding conserving as much water as possible while we remain in drought conditions.

Does the Free Chlorine Water Conversion relate to the Water Restrictions and/or Water Leaks?

No, the conversion process is a common practice, but has been exacerbated by the ongoing drought. Our conservation restrictions are currently at Stage 2. If we must change the stage, you will be notified. Should you see any water leaks, please report these to 311. We encourage you to see if a report has already been filed by checking the 311 app or looking at the location of the leak for a wooden stake painted blue. A wooden stake painted blue means that the report has been investigated, and it is already on our schedule to be fixed. 

Going forward, you'll be able to check our progress at >> https://www.beaumonttexas.gov/552/Water-Updates

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