The Town of Hillsborough will use chlorine instead of chloramines, a compound of chlorine and ammonia, to disinfect public drinking water through March, beginning Feb. 26.
In addition, town employees will flush and perform basic maintenance to fire hydrants in the town’s water system, beginning Feb. 28.
The annual change to chlorine helps ensure a high level of disinfection in the community’s water mains. North Carolina regulations require Hillsborough and other utilities that normally use chloramines for disinfection to use chlorine for one month each year. The City of Durham, Orange Water and Sewer Authority and other municipal public water systems in the region also typically use chlorine instead of chloramines for disinfection in March.
Some customers may notice that Hillsborough’s drinking water will have a chlorine taste or odor in March. However, the water will be safe to drink.
Customers who use Hillsborough water for special purposes or for processes involving careful control of water characteristics are encouraged to get advice from an appropriate technical source, such as a filter vendor or service company, about whether and how to make adjustments to their use of Hillsborough water during the one-month period when chlorine is used for disinfection.
The town began using chloramines in July 2005. Disinfection with chloramines has improved the taste, odor and overall quality of the town’s drinking water. Before 2005, Hillsborough used gaseous chlorine for disinfection.
Customers are invited to contact the town with any questions or comments about the use of chlorine in March and about the characteristics of Hillsborough’s drinking water. Contact Water Plant Superintendent Russell Bateman by e-mail or phone at 732-3621.
Customers also may see Hillsborough crews releasing water from fire hydrants and some water system valves in March. This “flushing” of the water mains will ensure that water with chlorine goes through the entire water system. The town typically flushes hydrants twice a year.
Staff will open each hydrant to flush the water system. They also will lubricate hydrants and identify any follow-up repair needs. During the process, town personnel may be required to trim plantings or remove other items to ensure that adequate access to the hydrants exists during emergencies and for maintenance.
Citizens may be asked to relocate plants and other items in street rights-of-way where necessary to allow a clear area 3 feet wide around a hydrant. Even if a citizen does not receive a request to remove an item near a hydrant, the town encourages everyone with a hydrant in the adjacent street right-of-way and property owners with private fire hydrants to ensure that hydrants are accessible.
Care should be given to ensure that any plants which are relocated in the right-of-way do not interfere with visibility of vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and traffic signs and do not interfere with utilities or street drainage. Property owners should obtain permission from the town before making landscape improvements, such as plantings, within the street right-of-way.
Opening the hydrants might cause some temporary cloudiness or discoloration of water. Discoloration can occur because small particles of iron and manganese that have settled in a water main may be stirred up. The discoloration does not make water unsafe to drink, but it could discolor fabric. Similarly, when air bubbles enter the water system during the hydrant flushing, they may cause cloudiness in drinking water.
If discoloration or air bubbles appear in the water, customers should run cold water in a bathtub for a few minutes until the water and/or air bubbles clear. If the water does not clear within five minutes, contact the town at 732-2104 during normal business hours or at 732-3621 for emergencies during nights and weekends.