What is a “free chlorine conversion”?
A free chlorine conversion is a process by which a water system switches its disinfection process from chloramines (a combination of chlorine and ammonia) to free chlorine in order to improve the long-term quality of its drinking water.
Why is the Utilities Commission implementing a “free chlorine conversion”?
To improve the overall water quality in our distribution system by preventing or eliminating discoloration problems from minerals, biofilm or nitrification.
Does the “free chlorine conversion” pose any health risks? Will the water be safe to drink and use?
The process is entirely safe and poses no health risks to customers. The water is safe to drink, and customers can use the water as normal.
Is this the first time that the Utilities Commission has implemented a free chlorine conversion?
No, the Utilities Commission has been doing the conversions since 2016.
Are “free chlorine conversions” a common practice among water systems?
Yes. This is a common industry standard for preventative maintenance in drinking water distribution systems. Many utilities throughout the country that use chloramines for their primary distribution disinfectant convert to free chlorine on an “as needed” basis.
Why all the flushing?
The Utilities Commission must directionally flush to maintain clear water for our customers and to ensure the free chlorine conversion has made it to the far reaches of our distribution system. Flushing should significantly subside after the termination of the conversion.
How long will the “free chlorine conversion” last?
The duration of the “free chlorine conversion” will be approximately 6 weeks, 2x/year.
Will I need to do anything differently during the conversion?
No action is necessary during the conversion. Customers may drink and use their water as normal.
My water has a strong chlorine smell. What is going on?
A chlorine smell is very normal during the conversion period, as the disinfectant is transitioning from chloramines to free chlorine. Chlorine concentrations maintained during the conversion will be well within FDOH and EPA standards and will be entirely safe to consume and use as normal.
I have additional questions, who should I contact?
Scott Heil, Water Production Supervisor 386-424-3191
Shiloh Wagers, Laboratory Supervisor 386-424-3184
As we all know potable water is a vital commodity which should be justifiably conserved. All regulatory agencies, such as Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Health, and St Johns River Water Management District, place restrictions on potable water for varying purposes and protections. Potable water flushing from fire hydrants is not inherent to the U.C., it is an integral part of maintaining water quality and protection of the public in all water systems. Routine system flushing is absolutely necessary with a chloramine residual. Distribution systems have piping designed for fire capacity and with current conservation levels by consumers, flushing makes up the difference to keep water meeting disinfectant residuals within potable water standards.
Water mains are flushed to allow freshly treated water to move through the pipes to meet the standards for active disinfectant in the water at the time of sampling. [and flush out any sediments and reduce turbidity]. If possible, the water is flushed into grassy areas. Flushing is a requirement for circulation in the extremities of a service area, to maintain mandatory chlorine residual in any low usage areas and ensures compliance with operating permits. Regulatory test sample thresholds are increasingly becoming narrower and operationally more difficult to meet. Bottom Line – After leaving the plant the water must be used within an exact amount of time before the disinfectant (an oxidant) loses its capability to do its job. Flushing is our means to accomplish this when water use by customers is insufficient. In some places you’ll see a small yellow box on the side of the hydrants equipped with timed release, automated flushing device. In other places you notice our water quality, field technicians manually operating hydrants for the same purpose.
Potable water treatment processes at the U.C. are continually being evaluated and system modifications performed to diminish flushing volumes and enhance the chloramine performance in our distribution system. Examples of best practices for this purpose are detection and repair of leaking pipes, eliminations of redundant piping [situations], installation of chlorine booster pumps if needed, as well as periodic comprehensive free chlorine treatments of our system. Realized by-products of a well maintained water distribution system, beyond health, safety, and ultimately conservation of our drinking water, are also hydraulic capacity improvements and reductions in the re-growth of biofilm and disinfection demand, which correlates into performance improvements and reduced operating costs.
There is not enough reuse flow available for every customer to have this product supplied. It takes approx. 3-4 domestic sewer customers to provide enough irrigation volume for 1 reuse connection.
Established developed areas will not likely get reuse service. Retrofitting already developed areas with a completely new network of pipes for reuse supply is not practical. It is too costly due to excessive disruption of paving, sidewalks and driveways, and it is too much of a burden on resident’s normal quality of life.
NOTE: Our policy is that new developments with access to existing reuse distribution mains install new reuse distribution piping along with new potable water mains, sewer mains, etc. BEFORE streets are constructed, so construction costs are reasonably managed.
Older homes may experience deterioration of plumbing which can contribute to metallic taste or some discoloration. Seasoning of pipes in brand new homes may affect taste or clarity and that should improve over time. Discoloration of sinks, tubs, and shower heads may be from an airborne mold and not from water. Sediment may be from filters, heaters or deterioration of plumbing.
If you have any questions about your water quality, please contact the "Water Quality Hotline" at 386-424-3184.
There is no need to treat your water. That is what we do. But individual taste preferences vary, and filters are one way to alter taste. Filters need to be maintained to be effective and to eliminate odors (see above). Softeners strip the natural minerals and replace calcium and magnesium with sodium, presenting possible high sodium water. Water stripped of minerals becomes aggressive in trying to re-dissolve minerals and may affect skin and other areas. We maintain a healthy balance between hard and softened water to maximize aesthetic qualities and minimize undesirable side effects.
This is likely to occur when water becomes stagnant, causing chlorine levels to drop to zero, or when the water sitting in the “trap” of the drains evaporates and allows gas to seep in from the drain lines. This happens mostly in homes of part-time occupation. Filters on faucet or shower heads may collect sediment and develop an odor, as can hot water heaters (which should be flushed 1 to 2 times annually).
Pressure decreases when demand increases. This happens when most of our part-time residents are here, or during holiday periods. It also occurs between midnight and 6 a.m., due to filling our storage and distribution tanks and routine flushing of lines.
By definition, absolutely pure water should be tasteless. Flavor comes from dissolved substances, whether they are naturally occurring, such as dissolved limestone, or introduced, such as chloramines for disinfection. Well water will taste differently from municipally treated water. Softened water will taste different from water with prominent mineral content. We strive to keep the water as close to its natural state as possible.