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

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

On Feb. 25, OWASA issued a press release on its annual change in disinfection: 

In March, OWASA will use chlorine instead of chloramines to disinfect drinking water.

OWASA uses chlorine for disinfection one month per year to ensure a high level of disinfection in the 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.

Chloramines are a compound of chlorine and ammonia which OWASA has used since 2002 to disinfect drinking water. Disinfecting with chloramines has improved the overall quality of OWASA water and its taste and odor. While the chlorine in the water is not harmful or unhealthy, the chlorine taste and odor can be removed by:

  • Adding a few lemon slices to a pitcher of water. The lemon has ascorbic acid, which neutralizes the chlorine.
  • Letting water sit for a day or so. (OWASA suggests keeping the water in an open container stored in a refrigerator.)
  • Boiling the water for one minute to evaporate the chlorine.
  • Filtering the water with activated carbon. Water pitchers with activated carbon filters are sold locally.

OWASA crews will release water from various fire hydrants in some areas to ensure that water with chlorine goes through the entire water system. This “flushing” may cause discoloration in the water. The discoloration consists of air and harmless sediment, which does not affect the safety of the water.

To clear up the discoloration or air bubbles, please run cold water through a spigot or faucet for 5 to 10 minutes. If this does not clear up the water, please call OWASA at 919-968-4421.

For more information:

  • Ken Loflin, Water Supply and Treatment Manager, 919-537-4232 or kloflin@owasa.org
  • Monica Dodson, Water Treatment Plant Operations Supervisor, 919-537-4205 or mdodson@owasa.org
  • Randy Horton, Interim Manager, Water Distribution and Wastewater Collection Systems, 919-537-4280 or rhorton@owasa.org