Potential chlorine taste, odor, and discoloration in city water supply in March

You may notice chlorine taste and odor in water in Orange County cit water in March/early April due to an annual change in disinfection. In March, the Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA) will use chlorine instead of chloramines to disinfect drinking water.

Chloramines are a compound of chlorine and ammonia which OWASA has used since 2002 for disinfection in months other than March. Disinfection with chloramines has improved the overall quality of our water and its taste and odor.

However, the State requires OWASA to use only chlorine for disinfection one month per year to ensure a high level of disinfection in our water system. (Chlorine is a more intense disinfectant than chloramines, but chloramines result in lower levels of certain disinfection byproducts that would be harmful at high levels.)

To remove chlorine taste and odor from OWASA water, you can:

  • Filter the water with activated carbon. Water pitchers with activated carbon filters are sold locally.
  • Let water sit for a day or so. (We suggest keeping the water in an open container stored in a refrigerator.)
  • Boil the water for one minute to evaporate the chlorine.
  • Add a few lemon slices to a pitcher of water.  The lemon has ascorbic acid, which neutralizes the chlorine.

OWASA crews will release water from various fire hydrants on March 1. The purpose of this “flushing” of water pipes is to ensure that water with chlorine goes through the entire water system.

The flushing of water mains may cause some discoloration of water because non-toxic sediment in our water pipes may be stirred up. To clear up any discolored water, please run cold water through a bathtub faucet, etc. for 5 to 10 minutes. If the discoloration does not clear up, please contact OWASA at 919-968-4421.

For more information contact: