Why did Pinellas County switch to chloramines?
Which customers have been affected by this change?
All retail water customers of Pinellas County Utilities and water customers of the Cities of Clearwater, Oldsmar, Pinellas Park, Safety Harbor and Tarpon Springs.
Are chloramines new?
No. Many cities in the U. S. and Canada have used chloramines for decades.
Are chloramines safe?
Yes. The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) accepts chloramines as a disinfectant and as a way to avoid formation of known carcinogens in the trihalomethane family of compounds. Chloraminated water is safe for bathing, drinking, cooking and all uses we have for potable water. However, there are two groups of people who need to take special care with chloraminated water: kidney dialysis patients and fish owners.
What special precautions should kidney dialysis patients take?
Kidney dialysis patients can drink, cook, and bathe in chloraminated water. However, chloramines must be removed from the water used in kidney dialysis machines.
Dialysis systems already pre-treat their source water to remove chlorine. However, some modifications may be necessary to remove the chloramines. Home dialysis service companies can usually make the needed modifications, but you should check with your physician to be certain.
All medical facilities that perform kidney dialysis have been notified of this change to chloraminated water treatment. According to the ESRD [End Stage Renal Disease] federal regulations, these facilities are responsible for purifying the water that enters the dialysis machines.
What special precautions should fish owners take?
Chloramines must be removed from any water to be used for fish tanks or ponds. Chloramines are toxic to saltwater and freshwater fish, reptiles that live in water, turtles and amphibians, and must be removed. This includes lobster tanks at grocery stores and restaurants as well as fish containers at bait shops.
You may not have had to remove chlorine from your aquarium water because it dissipates (evaporates) rapidly on its own. This is not the case with chloramines and specific steps must be taken for their removal.
Chloramines can be removed from the water by using a water conditioner specifically designed to remove chloramines or by using a granular activated carbon filter. Your pet supplier should be able to provide any further guidance you may need on these products.
Ammonia can be toxic to fish. Although all fish produce some ammonia as a natural by-product, ammonia is also released when chloramines are chemically removed. Some ammonia levels may be tolerable in individual tanks or ponds for short periods of time; however, commercial products are available at pet supply stores to remove excess ammonia. Biological filters, natural zeolites, and pH control methods are also effective in reducing the toxic effects of ammonia. View additional information on fish aquarium care (48kb)
If chloramines are harmful to fish, how can people safely drink the water?
Chloraminated water is no different than chlorinated water for all of the normal uses we have for potable water, including drinking. The digestive process neutralizes the chloramines before they reach the bloodstream. However, fish absorb chloramines directly into their bloodstreams through their gills, which can be fatal.
What are trihalomethanes (THMs)?
THMs are some of the chemical compounds that are formed when chlorine mixes with naturally occurring organics in water. The USEPA has determined some THMs to be carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) for people.
Can pregnant women and children drink chloraminated water?
Yes. Everyone can drink water that contains chloramines.
Can I safely wash an open wound with chloraminated water?
Yes. It is safe to use chloraminated water in cleaning an open wound because virtually no water actually enters the bloodstream that way.
Can I safely water plants, vegetables or fruit and nut trees?
Yes. The small amount of chloramines in the water supply will have no effect on plants of any type.
Will chloramines affect my swimming pool?
No. You will still need a free chlorine residual to retard algae and bacteria growths. Contact your local pool supply stores for specific information.
Will chloramines change the pH of the water?
No. The pH of Pinellas County Utilities water will remain in the range of pH 7.7 to 7.8.
Will chloramines dissipate or evaporate out of the water?
No. Unlike chlorine, which dissipates when water sits for a few days, chloramines may take weeks to completely disappear.
Do home water purifiers remove chloramines?
Most home purifiers are not designed to remove chloramines. Consult your manufacturer for specific information. NOTE: High quality granular activated carbon filters may remove chloramines provided sufficient contact time is permitted.
Does chloraminated water used for agricultural purposes have any effect on fish in adjacent streams?
Most water, which runs into streams and ponds, would be agricultural, landscaping or storm water drainage. After water has been used for one purpose, it probably would not have enough residual chloramine to affect fish.
What can be expected during the annual disinfectant conversion from chloramines to chlorine?
A different taste or odor to the water, some discoloration or sedimentation may be temporarily experienced. Running the water for 2 to 3 minutes is recommended to clear it before using.
Where can I get more information?
If you have any questions about this water treatment process or our water quality control program, please contact Pinellas County Utilities at (727) 464-4000 or visit Tampa Bay Water.