Beginning today through March 31, the City of Durham’s Water Management Department will temporarily stop adding ammonia as a part of the water treatment disinfection process in order to meet annual state and federal water requirements.
During this time, only chlorine will be used for disinfection. The department’s Water and Sewer Maintenance Division will also begin flushing the entire water system to allow chlorine to disperse throughout the system. System flushing will begin in the evening of Sunday, March 1. Although most of the flushing will be conducted Sundays through Thursdays between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. to minimize the impact, customers should expect to see crews flushing during regular business hours of 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. as well. During the three-week flushing process, there will be a maximum of seven two-person crews working from the center of the city out.
During this process, residents may notice slight discoloration in their water when crews are working in their neighborhoods. Residents receiving kidney dialysis treatment as well as aquarium and pond owners should continue to take special precautions to remove traces of ammonia and chlorine from the water prior to using it. Residents should also check their water before washing white clothing. If water discoloration occurs, customers should run their water for a few minutes until it becomes clear. If water discoloration persists, contact the Water and Sewer Maintenance Division at (919) 560-4344. Customers may also wish to collect water for drinking in a container and store in the refrigerator since the chlorine taste and odor will dissipate upon standing for a few hours.
Durham has been using chloramination as the disinfection process since January 2002. Chloramination uses both ammonia and chlorine to disinfect water and reduces the formation of disinfection by-products in the water distribution system. City water treatment plant staff will resume adding ammonia into the disinfection process on April 1.
Several other neighboring water providers, including Cary, Apex, Raleigh and the Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA), will be carrying out the same temporary disinfection process change and system flushing during this time period.
For more information on the disinfection process, contact the City’s Water Management Department at (919) 560-4381. Questions related to the flushing program should be directed to the City’s Water and Sewer Maintenance Division at (919) 560-4344. Information about the City’s water treatment and disinfection process may also be found at http://DurhamNC.gov/ich/op/dwm/Pages/Water-Quality-and-Treatment.aspx.