Water disinfection project starts next week

September 19, 2023

The City of Bartlesville will conduct a temporary switch from its current water disinfection system to free chlorine later this month.

Known as a Temporary Free Chlorine Conversion, the six-week process, which will begin Sept. 25, will result in the entire system being flushed and may cause some taste and odor issues for local water customers.

Why we need it

“Temporary Free Chlorine Conversion is a common industry standard and is routinely scheduled by some water providers using chloramine disinfection in an effort to ensure water quality throughout the distribution system,” said Director of Water Utilities Terry Lauritsen. “It involves switching from chloramines, which is what we normally use for disinfection, to free chlorine, which is a stronger and faster-acting disinfectant.”

Lauritsen said the City’s constant testing of water quality in the distribution system recently produced indicators in the southern portion of the system that the conversion may be warranted.

“We closely monitor the distribution system for biological activity and recently discovered that the southern portion of the distribution system, starting at Rice Creek Road and U.S. Highway 75 going south, are indicating the beginning stages of increased biological activity,” he said.

“While this activity is not pathogenic and does not create a health concern, we believe that a temporary full conversion is the best way to proceed.”

Water is safe to use and drink

Free chlorine conversion is endorsed and supported by both agencies that oversee water quality in Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Department of Environment Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“It is important to note that the water is currently safe to drink and use, and it will continue to be safe to drink and use during the conversion process,” Lauritsen said. “We continue to meet all standards for water quality set forth by both the ODEQ and the EPA. This conversion is simply a precautionary measure to ensure that we continue to meet those standards going forward.”

What you may notice

  • The public and local water customers may notice open fire hydrants or flushing valves during the project to allow flushing of the system, which helps distribute the change in disinfectant.
  • The temporary change may cause some discoloration or cloudiness in the water, minor pressure fluctuations and a strong chlorine odor and taste. If this is experienced, running water may help minimize the effects. Fire hydrant and valve flushing should remove a majority of the color and odor, but some will reach customer lines during the process.
  • The increase in the chlorine concentration in the water system may cause customers to experience eye or skin irritations and other possible effects similar to swimming pools with a high dose of chlorine.
  • Customers who use tap water for kidney dialysis at home should contact their doctor to determine if any changes are necessary in their residual disinfectant neutralization procedures.
  • Customers utilizing the water for aquariums should monitor the chlorine residuals.

For more information, see the full story at www.cityofbartlesville.org.